Reviews You Can Rely On

BalanceFrom Bike Trainer Review

This is the trainer you get when you’re just trying to get your legs spinning without paying a ton
BalanceFrom Bike Trainer
Photo: Amazon
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $126 List | $63.01 at Amazon
Pros:  Quick setup, easy to move around, light, simple design
Cons:  Louder, unrealistic road feel, low max power, no controllable features, not supported by many popular training apps
Manufacturer:   BalanceFrom
By Ryan Baham ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 12, 2021
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
43
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 11
  • Connectivity and Power Accuracy - 25% 1
  • Road Feel - 25% 2
  • Design - 20% 5
  • Setup - 20% 8
  • Portability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The BalanceFrom Bike Trainer is really meant as a utilitarian trainer to get you through the inside days. It's ideal for getting your legs moving without costing a ton. It won't replace the feel of the road or really compare to the high-end smart trainers at all, but you won't have to hang the bike up on cold, dark, or wet days. It's a very lightweight magnetic trainer with adjustable resistance that at least resembles resistance changes. If you're looking to do serious training inside and have the budget, there are much better trainers for it, but this one will work to get your legs moving.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award  
Price $63.01 at Amazon$999.99 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$489.00 at Amazon$100 List$49.98 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
43
78
68
48
41
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Quick setup, easy to move around, light, simple designLower price range for a premium trainer, good responsiveness, smooth, high power accuracyAffordable, simple to set up, easy to take on the road, great control for a tire drive trainerCrazy light, super affordable, spectacularly simpleVery affordable, light, easy to carry, store, and move around
Cons Louder, unrealistic road feel, low max power, no controllable features, not supported by many popular training appsRequires calibration, heavy, slightly aggressive in ERG modeResistance unit is just a bit bulky and heavy, manual drum adjustment, lower responsivenessSlightly limited compatibility, not much resistance, no sensorsLimited resistance, cable shifter, durability and quality issues
Bottom Line This is the trainer you get when you’re just trying to get your legs spinning without paying a tonAn affordable training companion to get you through winter, rain, and turbo-charged training sessionsGet access to all the awesome performance of a smart trainer at a fraction of the price and effortThis is your basic no frills trainer that you can take just about anywhere and get in a quick spinThis trainer should be considered a last ditch option—workable, but not the best
Rating Categories BalanceFrom Bike Tr... Saris H3 Direct Drive Kinetic Road Machin... Blackburn Tech Mag 1 FDW Bike Trainer
Connectivity And Power Accuracy (25%)
1.0
8.0
6.0
1.0
1.0
Road Feel (25%)
2.0
8.0
6.0
2.0
2.0
Design (20%)
5.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
Setup (20%)
8.0
6.0
8.0
10.0
8.0
Portability (10%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
10.0
9.0
Specs BalanceFrom Bike Tr... Saris H3 Direct Drive Kinetic Road Machin... Blackburn Tech Mag 1 FDW Bike Trainer
Type Tire drive Direct drive Tire drive Tire drive Tire drive
Weight (lbs) 19 lbs 47 lbs 28 lbs 15 lbs 19 lbs
Compatible Platforms-TrainerRoad, Zwift None. Yes, both. Also Rouvy. Yes, both. Also Kinetic Fit, Rouvy, Kinomap, The Sufferfest and FulGaz. None. None.
Communication Protocol None ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth FTMS ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth FTMS None None
Dimensions L-H-W (inches) 23.9 x 20.1 x 7.6 31” x 18.5” x 19.5” 32"x22.4"x16" 21.7"x21.7"x16.3" 23.9 x 20.1 x 7.6
Storage Dimensions LxHxW (inches) 23.9 x 20.1 x 7.6 8.5” x 18.5” x 19.5” 20.75"x8.25"x21.5" 21.7"x6.3"x18.9" 23.9 x 20.1 x 7.6
Power Comparison N/A 1-3 watts, 1% 10 watts, 5% N/A N/A
Decibel @ 230 Watts 65.2 dB 55.3 dB 55.9 dB 60 dB 65.2 dB
Roll Out Time @ 200 watts 5 seconds 58 seconds 17 seconds 4 seconds 5 seconds
Flywheel 5 lbs 20 lbs 12 lbs Magnetic 5 lbs
Additonal Skewer No Cassette included Skewer included Quick release skewer included Skewer
Axel compatibility 130mm and 135mm || May need 3rd party adaptors for 142mm and 148mm 130mm, 135mm compatible || Thru-axle available for 142mm and 148mm through CycleOps. 130mm, 135mm || 142mm and 148mm adaptors available through Kinetic. 130mm and 135mm || May need 3rd party adaptors for 142mm and 148mm 130mm and 135mm || May need 3rd party adaptors for 142mm and 148mm

Our Analysis and Test Results

This trainer is very similar to the FDW Bike Trainer. The chief difference is that this one didn't have any failures, whereas the FDW had an issue with the axle locking mechanism that took a lot of finagling to fix. The BalanceFrom is basically plug and play out of the box after you bolt in the resistance unit. It's a really stripped down trainer, but you get some semblance of resistance with the adjustable magnetic level, which you'll affix to your handlebars. It's not pretty, but it keeps the trainer really affordable and gives you just a little more range.

Performance Comparison


The BalanceFrom trainer is incredibly simple to setup and get rolling.
The BalanceFrom trainer is incredibly simple to setup and get rolling.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Connectivity and Power Accuracy


There's a real dearth of connectivity for the BalanceFrom. It's a basic trainer, so you don't get any controllable features, and most of the big virtual companies don't support it yet. You won't get a lot of fancy bells and whistles with the BalanceFrom.

The fundamental setback inherent to all magnetic trainers is power. We were a little grumpy that we couldn't find a good power curve for this trainer, but it's a magnetic trainer, so it's a linear curve. That means that for each resistance level you apply on your shifter, you are increasing the power required to turn the pedal proportionately. As an example, if level 1 requires 100 watts to go 20 mph, then level 5 requires 500 watts to go 20 mph. In contrast, a fluid trainer will always get you about 14 mph at 100 watts and about 30 mph at 500 watts. All this is to say that the BalanceFrom doesn't reproduce the feeling of riding outside nearly as well as more advanced trainers.

You'll have fun approximating the required resistance for your...
You'll have fun approximating the required resistance for your workouts.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Road Feel


Consistent with our expectations for this sort of trainer, the BalanceFrom felt, well, mechanical. It's a magnetic tire drive trainer, meaning that the resistance doesn't have that nice natural feel you get with the fluid trainers and smart electronic trainers that can simulate road inertia a little better. That's also to do with the large, heavy flywheels, which you won't find on this unit, whose total weight is just 19 pounds. For comparison, high-end smart trainers can weigh as much as 50 pounds. This model provides enough to get you spinning, but don't expect to be transported to the Pyrenees.

Design


This is a really simple magnetic resistance trainer. There's a cable that's used to adjust resistance up or down, but it's rough. You're not going to get the same ride as a fancy trainer, but it does work. The thing we liked about it is also its biggest pitfall—its simplicity. There's not much that goes into adjustment, so you don't need to waste time tinkering and adjusting and calibrating. Just tighten down the skewer clamps and tighten the resistance unit's bolt, so the tires don't slide, then you're free to adjust resistance with the cable.

It's worth noting that the BalanceFrom and FDW are nearly identical trainers. The difference we found was mainly that the BalanceFrom's locking mechanism engaged properly for the axle clamp.

This fastener was one of the better designs for handlebar shifters.
This fastener was one of the better designs for handlebar shifters.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Setup


The BalanceFrom is easy to unbox and assemble. It's just a little resistance unit that needs to be bolted to a basic base or stand. The bolts take a bit of patience to thread through the holes and guides, but otherwise, it's very easy to get the unit attached. Next, throw in the acorn skewer and get your bike into the stand's bolts so your tire is over the middle of the drum, then tighten the resistance unit down enough so your tire doesn't slip. Attach the shifter to your handlebars, and you're off to the races. Pretty easy.

We were happy that the BalanceFrom had no problems locking or...
We were happy that the BalanceFrom had no problems locking or unlocking the axle.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Portability


This is among the easiest trainers to store and unpack. It's only about 20 pounds, so it's really easy to pick up and carry around, even in suitcases. The base folds up into a nice, compact, flat shape that fits into nooks and corners. The resistance unit is also simple to remove if needed. The least convenient part is the shifter cable affixed to the resistance unit, which slightly changes the spaces that it can easily fit into, but it's still not a serious setback. Bottom line: It's really easy to store and lug around.

Value


We think most cyclists will be better served by spending more on a bike trainer than this one. The BalanceFrom will get you upright and rolling, and if that's all you need, it'll do fine. Just don't expect it to be the ride of your dreams.

Conclusion


The BalanceFrom Bike Trainer is a stripped-down magnetic trainer with just a bit of toggling capacity for its resistance unit. Our testing confirmed that it does work to get your legs moving indoors. Just be aware of the shortcomings mentioned.

The simple BalanceFrom goes from box to rolling in just a few...
The simple BalanceFrom goes from box to rolling in just a few minutes. It's a far cry from the greatest trainer out there, but it will get you up and running with very little fuss.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Ryan Baham