How to get the most out of the best budget bike trainer? That’s something a lot of riders ask themselves. Here’s how to upgrade your basic trainer smart with a speed and cadence sensor. Plus, we explain how you can use the best indoor cycling apps for advanced training sessions to train scientifically or for added entertainment.

Basic turbo trainers get the job done. You can train indoors when the weather keeps you inside. You can add resistance and train on feel and if you’re motivated you will undoubtedly get fitter. But… if you’re banking hours and hours of turbo-time, and you want to develop as a cyclist, you need to know how much effort you’re putting out. Plus, you need to be able to do longer workouts while staying concentrated. The secret is to know your power output.

No power meter, no problem. Software can calculate ‘virtual power’ by knowing your wheel speed and your cadence. If you don’t have a speed and cadence sensor on your bike already Tacx has an excellent one which can transmit to up to two devices at once. Check out this article for more info.

Open up a new world of training with virtual power
There are a host of indoor training apps out there to help you get fitter and more enjoyment from indoor training. Tacx apps, Zwift and TrainerRoad are the big three applications.

All the apps can estimate your power based on your speed and the resistance level of the trainer. Each trainer has its own power curve, dependent on the speed and position of the resistance unit. The various software packages already know the power curves of all the basic Tacx trainers.

All you have to do is manually indicate which position the basic trainer is in and the linked sensor transmits your speed. The app then calculates your power. It’s less accurate than a proper power meter, but that doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that it’s consistent, so you can measure your improvements from an initial baseline.

Best indoor cycling software
Now you can access advanced cycle trainer workouts with TrainerRoad, the most popular all-in-one cycling training system: structured workouts, season planning, and ride analytics. Or interact, train and compete in the virtual world of Zwift, a massive multiplayer online cycling videogame and physical training environment.

And of course… Tacx apps. We have a library filled with high quality training films, structured training plans, GPS workouts, tools to analyse and share your data, race and follow your friends. Subscribe to Tacx Premium or Premium HD to make use of the paid features.