Thinking about switching from a smart bike to a smart trainer: what to expect?

A couple years ago, when I first got into TR and indoor training, I got a Stages SB20 smart bike. I chose it mainly because at the time I only had one bike, and I didn’t want the hassle of taking it off and on a trainer, or the extra wear and tear on the drivetrain. I’ve been very happy with it, it’s been rock-solid and has required negligible maintenance besides changing the batteries in the power meters every six months or so. Since then, though, I’ve gotten into triathlon training, which have very long rides in the training plans, and are pretty hard to do on this bike due to the rigidity and lack of movement whatsoever. Anything over two hours is pretty painful unless I take breaks. These days I ride between 10 and 20 hours a week indoors (especially during winter), most of it on TrainerRoad, with an occasional Zwift ride here and there (like once a week).

With this new Wahoo Kickr Move being released, I’m considering replacing the SB20 with one, especially now that I have more than one bike, and can use one of them (a Salsa Journeyman) as a dedicated trainer bike. I’ve never used a bike trainer before, so I’m curious about what I can expect while using one, in particular things that might surprise me or make me regret my decision. I’m thinking:

  • More maintenance than I’m used to, since I’ll need to oil the chain, replace components as they wear out
  • More noise, probably?
  • More limited gearing for Zwift rides, which I guess might make climbing the Alpe harder?

What else, what am I missing?

Have you considered adding motion to your SB20? There are minimal to maximal ways to add motion from thick foam blocks under the feet all the way up to full motion rocker plates.

It’s possible you can make your current setup more tolerable with a range of effort and some extra cost.


Chain - it depends if you have dedicated trainer bike or you use the same bike outdoors. I ride mostly indoors and chain lubrication is definetely not a problem. One suggestion in that matter - wax in bottles (i recommend smoove) is way cleaner, leaves no marks and it’s very easy to apply (just add another layer and leave for the night)

Noise - I use kickr core and only noise is a chain. No one is complaining.

Gearing - like in real life, you can change casette if you need more gears and you are climbing big hills on zwift. As a bail-out you can always switch to erg mode ;).

Sweat - this is the thing you have to pay attention. Your bolts in steam or habdlebar can be covered with sweat and corrode. So make them clean.

I have to admit - never had a trainer bike but using smart trainer is definitely 0 hassle and less absorbing than using bike outdoors.

  • Per his comment mentioning the Journeyman bike, it should have a decent range from the specs I’ve seen on it (gravel bike with lower range than typical roadie).

  • On top of that, if Zwift is in play… the use of “Trainer Difficulty” can be applied if needed to deal with gearing concerns. I realize that is a loaded topic for many people, but it’s application to handle gearing limits is a worthwhile consideration.


I’ve thought about it, but I was somewhat skeptical of how effective that’d be considering how freaking heavy this bike is (140 lb), and the additional footprint made it less attractive as well—my room is getting pretty tight as it is. That’s actually another reason I was interested in the Kickr: if I need to make some room I could just take the bike off, fold the trainer’s legs in, and move it somewhere else.

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Good to know!

Gearing - like in real life, you can change casette if you need more gears and you are climbing big hills on zwift. As a bail-out you can always switch to erg mode ;).

That’s true, and I totally forgot about the trainer difficulty setting Chad mentioned. I’ve been pampered by the “dream drive” in the SB20, but these are good options.

Sweat - this is the thing you have to pay attention. Your bolts in steam or habdlebar can be covered with sweat and corrode. So make them clean.

Good callout. I’m a very light sweater, especially with the fans on, but good to keep in mind.

Thanks folks, this is all good info. I learned yesterday that REI has a one-year return policy for co-op members, so I’m gonna preorder one from there and try it out before I decide to sell the SB20, just in case.


Yeah, the larger rocker plates can be an issue. But it’s possible that some well placed foam blocks and mostly rigid center support will only raise the height while keeping the same footprint.

It’s not a real deal rocker setup, but has been enough for some SB20 users that it improved their comfort in cases like you mention.

I can find some examples from the FB group and do some sketches if you want to give DIY a shot. I can also send you some foam like I’ve used for my hacks just so you have something.

Strange timing, I have a tacx smart bike. i’m having all sorts of problems that likely mean im going to need a bike fit for FAI. The shortest crank available for me is 170mm on the tacx, i need a 165mm. (the newest version of the bike has that).

I was thinking of moving over to the tacx rollers. That way I can perfect my fit on one bike and not have to worry about it carrying over to another. When i was previously on a Directo XR trainer, I loved it and then hated it, it was too much of a excuse to not go out on the roads, I sweat LOADS. I found my chain constantly needing lubricant aswell.

So I got the Kickr Move… and I think I’m going to return it. Setting it up was relatively straightforward, I like that it just slides out of the box and requires no assembly; the hardest part was figuring out what kind of quick release my bike uses and then getting the bike on the thing, but otherwise it was super simple. Love the wifi connection, it’s so solid. Did a TrainerRoad VO2max ride (or… half of one, my legs are pretty cooked) and an endurance ride and the responsiveness is much better than the SB20. The power seems little spikier to my eyes, but in the VO2max workout I got much closer to the interval targets than I normally do on the SB20. The movement is… interesting, but it does seem to help. I did a couple hours on the bike and my butt feels fine.

My only issue was in Zwift—the ride was rough. Really rough. On the largest cogs it’s pretty smooth, maybe even smoother than the belt drive on the SB20, but as I shift into the smaller gears there’s a noticeable vibration on the pedals; pedaling on the smallest cog feels like riding on a rumble strip. It wasn’t a problem on TR because I did those rides in erg mode in the middle of the cassette, but it made Zwift pretty unpleasant. A few threads here and in reddit seems to indicate this is normal and there’s no real solution… is that right? If that’s the case I might stick with the SB20 for now.

I think you’ll find that all stationary bikes are very rigid, even when comparing the exact same bike on a trainer vs out on the road.

Rocker plates help but not that much.

I’ve had 3 Kickr COREs (the original I purchased, plus 2 two warranty machines, the first to replace the original which started making noise, and the 2nd after the first warranty machine consistantly read about 35-40 watts higher than my Assiomas). All three of the units did the same in the 2 smallest cogs, so i’d say it’s likely normal (at least with Wahoo units).

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That’s what I gathered from some of the older threads like this one. I wasn’t expecting that, but it’s kind of a tough tradeoff: slightly more comfort but a worse ride feel overall? I don’t know, I have 90 days to return it, I might still decide the pros outweigh the cons :man_shrugging:

Is there any chance the chain on your bike is worn and not running well on a new cassette?

It has about 1000 miles on it, but I haven’t ridden this bike in a minute so maybe it’s worth replacing it anyway.

Might use a chain checker to see if it’s too long from wear, but seems unlikely from that mileage.

Question for those of you more familiar with trainers: I’ve been doing some test rides with my Favero Assioma Duo pedals to compare the power between the SB20 and the Kickr, and I noticed that on the short test rides, the power is basically spot-on accurate:

That’s Clyde, a 20-minute threshold workout. However, on longer rides, like Heseman, the power starts diverging over the course of the workout, and by the end there’s about a 10-15 W difference between the pedals and the trainer, with the pedals reporting higher power (and this may be subjective, but I’m inclined to believe the pedals, the effort did start feeling more tempo-ish).

I realize 10-15 W is not that big of a difference at the end of the day, but is the fact that they are in alignment at the start of the workout and then start diverging common/expected? If so, what causes that? Just want to make sure it’s not an actual problem in either the pedals or the trainer.