With all of the different types of bike trainers on the market, it can be hard to choose the right one for you. One often overlooked aspect of a bike trainer is the noise level. If you live with other people or in an apartment where you are very close to other people, noise level might be a significant consideration when purchasing a trainer. If you are looking into a new bike trainer, you might want to know:
How Loud are Bike Trainers?
According to DC Rainmaker, the average bike trainer will generate 65-73 decibels of sound. For comparison, 75 decibels is similar to the sound of a vacuum cleaner. However, the exact volume of a given bike trainer will depend on several factors, including how fast you pedal, and the specific trainer you use.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into just how loud bike trainers can be. Then, we’ll look into whether or not a bike trainer will disturb your neighbors, how to make your trainer even quieter, and which trainers are the quietest. But first, we’ll look at what bike trainers sound like.
What Do Bike Trainers Sound Like?
Many trainers produce a high-pitched “white noise” sound. While other trainers might sound a little bit like a power tool, like a handheld drill.
The specific noise a bike trainer makes will vary depending on the following factors:
- Bike noise. You’ll hear the regular noises that your bike makes. Some bicycles make a distinct buzzing sound when coasting. Your drivetrain will make some noise as the chain turns over the cassettes. The dirtier the drivetrain, the noisier it will be!
- Tire type. The type of tire you have on your bike will also affect the noise level of your trainer. For example, a very knobby tire on a wheel-on trainer will add a bit of noise as the bumps in the tire roll over the trainer wheel. On the other hand, a smoother tire made especially for use on the trainer will be much quieter. Pumping up the tire to the correct PSI will make it function better and reduce extra noise.
- Trainer type. Bike trainers that have a fan for a flywheel are pretty loud. Wheel-on trainers are also rather noisy, as you have the sound of the wheel turning as well as the mechanisms of the trainer itself. Direct drive trainers are usually the quietest. Fluid trainers fall somewhere in between.
- Speed. The faster you ride, the louder your trainer will get. If you ride more slowly, the trainer will be quieter.
- Flooring. The type of flooring you have will also affect the noise that your trainer makes. For example, if you have the trainer on a cement floor or carpeted floor, the noise won’t reverberate as much as if you were using it on a wooden floor or tile floor.
And since different trainers make different noises, you might be concerned about how this will affect your neighbors.
Will a Bike Trainer Disturb Your Neighbors?
The reality is, a bike trainer can be noisy, and it might disturb your neighbors if they live in the same building. However, your bike trainer probably isn’t any louder than your vacuum cleaner or hairdryer, although most people do not use those for the same duration or frequency as you would use a trainer.
Comparison of Bike Trainers and Other Sounds Around the House
|Trainer / Appliance||Decibel Level||Trainer Type|
|Saris H3 (Trainer)||59||Turbo|
|Wahoo Kickr (Trainer)||61||Direct Drive|
|Fliiight (Trainer)||0||Magnetic Resistance|
|Kurt Kinetic Road Machine (Trainer)||81.3||Wheel on|
|LeMond Revolution (Trainer)||90||Direct Drive, Flywheel Fan|
|Window Air Conditioner||50||N/A|
As you can see from the chart above, average home appliances run between 50 and 85 decibels. A high-quality bike trainer, such as a direct drive smart trainer, falls inside the noise levels of general home appliances.
Even though some trainers are relatively quiet, there are still situations where the noise of the trainer might bother your neighbors.
For example, if you live in an apartment, the neighbors that live directly below you are the ones that would most likely receive the brunt of the noise. In addition, the noise below you will be louder because the vibrations of the trainer can travel through the floor to the ceiling below.
If you have neighbors in an adjacent townhouse, they might be able to hear that you are using your trainer, but it probably won’t be that loud in their house. And neighbors that live in a home that isn’t attached to yours most likely won’t be able to hear your trainer at all.
If you can hear your neighbor’s television or vacuum cleaner, then they can probably hear your trainer. If you can’t hear those things, then they probably cannot hear you riding your bike. Keep in mind that people who ride trainers also tend to use fans and play loud music. Your music and fans might be much louder than your trainer
That being said, there are some things you can try that will reduce the noise your trainer makes and lessen the chance of bothering your neighbors.
Tips for Reducing Bike Trainer Noise
Although trainers can be noisy, there are a few things you can do to reduce the noise. This will help you enjoy your riding experience more and will be kind to your neighbors.
1. Purchase a Direct Drive Trainer
Direct drive trainers tend to be much quieter than wheel-on trainers or trainers that have a flywheel fan. So if noise is a concern, start with a direct drive.
2. Choose a Room with a Cement Floor
The cement floor of your basement or garage is going to be the quietest. If that doesn’t work, you might want to choose a room with thick padding and carpet to help absorb the vibrations of the trainer.
3. Place Your Trainer on a Thick Rubber Mat
Rubber mats and pieces of carpet underneath your trainer will help absorb even more noise. It will also protect your flooring from sweat.
4. Make Sure Your Trainer is Set-Up Correctly
If your trainer wobbles, it will create additional noise (not to mention it could also be dangerous). Make sure everything is set up according to the manufacturer’s instructions. And periodically check to make sure nothing has come loose.
5. Use a Trainer Tire if You Ride a Wheel-On Trainer
A trainer tire will be quieter than a road or trail tire. Also keep whatever tire you use adequately inflated to avoid extra squeaks and noise.
6. Keep Your Chain Clean and Lubricated
A dirty chain is a noisy chain. Surprisingly, your chain can pick up dirt and dust even inside on a trainer. So make sure you clean and lubricate it regularly to keep it running quiet and smooth. If you run out of bike chain lube, you can consider temporarily using one of these chain lube alternatives.
3 of the Quietest Bike Trainers on the Market
Finally, I thought it would be helpful to highlight a couple of the quietest bike trainers that are currently available.
Here they are:
Formally known as the Stac Zero, the Fliiight claims to be the quietest trainer on the market. It uses magnets to create resistance against the rear tire, creating a nearly sound-free experience. The only noise you should hear is the drivetrain of the bike. You can find out more here.
2. Saris H3
The Saris H3 Direct Drive Trainer is exceptionally quiet. At 20 mph, it quietly hums along at 59 decibels. Sari’s trainers are known for their quality and dependability. Find out more here.
3. Wahoo Kickr
Wahoo Kickrs are an industry favorite due to their accuracy and realistic ride feel. They’re also one of the quietest trainers made, with a specially designed belt drive for nearly silent operation. You can learn more about the Kickr here.
If noise is a concern, choose a trainer such as a direct drive trainer, which won’t be noisy. Place the trainer on rubber mats or carpeting to dampen any vibrations, and use headphones if you are listening to music. Not only will these noise-reducing tips give you a more enjoyable experience, but they’ll also help keep your neighbors happy, as well.
If you want to learn how to measure distance on a bike trainer, read our article “4 Ways to Measure Distance On an Indoor Bike Trainer“.