There are many, many, many reasons you might want to stay inside, to borrow a term from Commandant Eric Lassard. It’s cold, or wet, or raining, or part of your usual route has fallen into a sinkhole. All of these are possibilities for South African cyclists. For the days when you just don’t wanna, cycling trainers make it possible for you to get the cardio in without needing to don your sunglasses.
Maybe it’s just a way to trick your brain into thinking you’re playing a video game. Cycling trainers are, essentially, stationary bikes that operate in front of the TV. But the very best of them also include some serious haptic feedback, so you’re not slacking off while you’re… well, slacking off.
They’re a little hard to locate in South Africa, though. Wahoo and Garmin‘s Tacx brand are readily available, but anything more exotic, like the Elite Suito, generally has to come from overseas. With that in mind, we’ve tracked down a handful of the best options that don’t require truly massive courier fees to own. Here, in order of expense, are five cycling trainers available in SA.
Wahoo Kickr Core | R15,000
If you’re after a cycling trainer that just gets the job done and doesn’t cost more than your bike, the Wahoo Kickr Core is your device. It’s a smaller version of the brand’s very popular Kickr, featuring a belt-driven flywheel to create its electromagnetic resistance. In its favour, it’s compact and easy to store. The Kickr Core supports Zwift, Sufferfest, and TrainerRoad apps, with ANT+ and Bluetooth being features as well. Capable of generating up to 1,800W of resistance, it should tax your muscles unless you’re a regular on the Tour. It’s also quite simple to set up, as far as these things go. On the downside, it doesn’t have many features at all. There’s very little grade simulation as a single unit. Wahoo does sell various additions — the Headwind and the Climb — to offer a more detailed experience.
Tacx Flux 2 | R16,600
Tacx is a brand managed by Garmin, the folks who make those lovely Edge cycling computers. The Flux 2 is a relatively-silent direct-drive trainer that packs a 7.6kg flywheel and a batch of magnets and electromagnets. These help to generate up to 2,000W of resistance. ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity are standard, and it suits a range of cassettes from Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo. Cassettes are the batches of gears, in case you don’t own a R35,000 bicycle of your own. As with the Kickr Core, you have to supply your own cassette. Also in common is the limited incline simulation with the Flux 2. But at least you’ve got access to all those third-party apps (Zwift and friends), plus one more. Tacx has its own offering, with more than 100 courses cyclists can tackle, alone or with (virtual) mates. Or have a LAN party — that’d be fun too.
Tacx Neo 2T | R27,000
Moving up into the ‘serious money’ category is the Tacx Neo 2T. All of the standard points are available here — electromagnetic resistance, ANT+ and ANT+ FE-C support, Bluetooth, support for Zwift, TrainerRoad, and Tacx’s own platform. There’s also a little more in store. A more powerful, responsive motor lets riders simulate up to a 25% gradient. That’s more than Wahoo’s dedicated Climb add-on is able to provide. It’s got a couple of other interesting features too. First of all, it works when the power is off because it generates its own electricity. It works better when the power’s on, obviously. And, second, it’s capable of simulating various road surfaces. That’s not an especially common feature in the field of cycling trainers. Finally, neodymium magnets and a metal flywheel make this one of the quietest trainers you’ll ever encounter. This doesn’t account for your groaning, puffing, and blowing, of course.
Tacx Neo Bike | R53,500
Here’s where things get a little… expensive. Not as expensive as some bike frames we’ve come across, but more out of reach than some basic ole’ Trojan gear would be. See, there’s one serious downside when using cycling trainers. That is, you’re constantly taking your bike apart to use them. Going from inside to outside involves breakdown and setup, and vice versa. The Tacx Neo Bike skips that step by… including the bike. But not the pedals. You’re supplying those. It manages to elevate itself above the regular stationary bike by including Zwift and Tacx support, as well as those road-simulating haptics. It’s also got all of the other features of the company’s Neo 2T — neodymium magnets, a 25% incline, and blissful silence. But you’ve still got to work out where to put it when you’re done working out.
Wahoo Kickr Bike | R70,000
For R70k, you might as well buy another bike, a jacket, and just go outside. Right? Well… maybe not. Wahoo’s bike isn’t your everyday fitness machine. It’s a bit of a shapeshifter, able to replicate the gearing and shifters on any of the bikes you happen to own. It’ll also reproduce the dimensions, either via manual input or by having you take a photo of your actual bike. It’s belt-driven, so it’s almost the quietest thing on the planet, and it features very natural movement and accurate braking resistance. It’ll also simulate a 20% incline and 15% decline rather bloody well. The whole thing weighs in at 42kg, so it’s definitely heavier than your daily ride. But you don’t have to disassemble that one in order to get on and go. Provided the power’s on, of course. Whether you have space for it in your home, though… that’s another question entirely.