Indoor Training Options (Smart Bike, Direct Drive, Power Pedals, etc.)


I live in the northern portion of the Midwest, and am looking to stay more motivated this winter to maintain my cycling fitness. I stuck with a plan all spring and summer for the Chequamegon 40 that I raced last week… over that time I increased my FTP from 225 in June to 288 on September 1st, lost about 40 pounds (still more to lose), and am looking to keep my fitness on the rising trend into next year with a few additional races planned. I have generally lost motivation utilizing an indoor set-up, and so last year I did buy a fat-bike for winter riding, but find it hard to get specific non-Z2 endurance rides in the winter with potential ice, conditions, etc.

For indoor training, I am looking for recommendations between a Smart Bike (Stages vs. TacX vs. Wahoo) or Direct Drive Trainer (or similar, again TacX, Zwift, Wahoo, etc.), or possibly even just rollers (I have a Quarq power meter on my mountain bike, which is my primary ride)?

What are some thoughts on these? The idea of a Smart Bike is exciting (fully customizable, even if the wife wants to use it), but simultaneously it is pricey. I like the idea of the Direct Drive Trainer as well for either my main bike (Pivot Trail 429 with a Quarq PowerMeter), or one of my bikes I don’t use often (Cannondale Cyclocross), as this would seemingly be cheaper and just as effective while providing an ERG mode, TR app compatibility for structured rides, etc… Essentially, there are a lot of options out there, so what works for other people?