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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
Credit: Amazon
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Price:  $126 List | $40.91 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 13, 2022
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
#9 of 10
  • Connectivity and Power Accuracy - 25% 1.0
  • Road Feel - 25% 2.0
  • Design - 20% 5.0
  • Setup - 20% 8.0
  • Portability - 10% 9.0

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.

Editor's Note: On January 15, 2022, we updated this review to include more information on the products we would choose.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Quick setup, easy to move around, light, simple designLower price range for a premium trainer, good responsiveness, smooth, high power accuracyQuick setup, easy operation, durable, stable, communicates with training apps, low noiseLightweight, affordable, durable designVery 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 appsStill relatively expensive, requires calibration, heavy, slightly aggressive in ERG modeLimited max resistance, roller can heat up and accelerate tire wear, no power data, no controlLoud, mag resistance has limitations, assembly takes some effort, requires speed sensor purchased separately to connect to third-party appsLimited 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 tonA more affordable premium direct drive trainer to get you through winter, rain, and turbo-charged training sessionsA simple, affordable, and highly functional tire drive trainer with the option to use it with training appsThis is a utilitarian mag trainer that provides more reliability than others in the low-end price rangeIf you can't possibly spend more, this trainer works to get the legs spinning
Rating Categories BalanceFrom Bike Tr... Saris H3 Direct Drive Saris Fluid 2 Saris Mag+ FDW Bike Trainer
Connectivity and Power Accuracy (25%)
1
8.0
5.0
3.0
1
Road Feel (25%)
2.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
2.0
Design (20%)
5.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
Setup (20%)
8.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Portability (10%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
Specs BalanceFrom Bike Tr... Saris H3 Direct Drive Saris Fluid 2 Saris Mag+ FDW Bike Trainer
Type Tire drive Direct drive Tire drive Tire drive Tire drive
Weight (lbs) 19 lbs 47 lbs 21 lbs 20 lbs 19 lbs
Compatible Platforms None. TrainerRoad, Zwift, Rouvy, BKOOL, Kinomap, RGT, and more TrainerRoad, Zwift, Rouvy, Wahoo SYSTM Zwift, TrainerRoad, Rouvy, and more (with speed sensor) None.
Communication Protocol None ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth FTMS ANT+ BlueGiga USB ANT+ FE-C or Bluetooth FTMS None
Dimensions L-H-W (inches) 23.9 x 20.1 x 7.6 31” x 18.5” x 19.5” 28" x 21.5" x 15.7" 28" x 21.5" x 15.7" 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” 20.5" x 9" x 20.75" 20.5" x 9" x 20.75" 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 64.7 dB 66.5 dB 65.2 dB
Roll Out Time @ 200 watts 5 seconds 58 seconds 15 seconds 4 seconds 5 seconds
Flywheel 5 lbs 20 lbs 3 lbs Magnetic 5 lbs
Additonal Skewer No Cassette included Skewer Skewer Skewer
Axle 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. 120mm, 130mm, 135mm compatible || Thru-axle available for 142mm and 148mm through CycleOps. 142x12mm and 148x12mm bikes 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 on 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 affordable and gives you just a little more range.

Performance Comparison


BalanceFrom Bike Trainer bike trainer - the balancefrom trainer is incredibly simple to setup and get rolling.
The BalanceFrom trainer is incredibly simple to setup and get rolling.
Credit: 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. For 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. Overall, the BalanceFrom doesn't reproduce the feeling of riding outside nearly as well as more advanced trainers.

BalanceFrom Bike Trainer bike trainer - you'll have fun approximating the required resistance for your...
You'll have fun approximating the required resistance for your workouts.
Credit: 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. A cable is 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. Not much 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.

BalanceFrom Bike Trainer bike trainer - this fastener was one of the better designs for handlebar shifters.
This fastener was one of the better designs for handlebar shifters.
Credit: 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.

BalanceFrom Bike Trainer bike trainer - 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.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Portability


This is among the easiest trainers to store and unpack. It's only about 20 pounds, so it's 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 it can easily fit into, but it's still not a serious setback. Bottom line: It's really easy to store and lug around.

BalanceFrom Bike Trainer bike trainer - 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.
Credit: Ryan Baham

Should You Buy the BalanceForm?


No, we don't think you should; no matter what your training goals are, we believe there are better options available in this review. This trainer has no controllable features, and an unrealistic road feel compared to the bike trainer competition. So despite the lower price, there isn't much to redeem this trainer. While it might work if all you want is to get your wheels spinning, The FDW Trainer is cheaper with a similar overall low score and can play the role of wheel spinner.

What Other Bike Trainer Should You Consider?


Almost any option is better than this trainer, but we can see how the price could draw some readers with a tight budget. If you need a wallet-friendly trainer, we prefer the Saris Fluid 2, which is almost three times the price but likely to significantly lower your level of frustration and increase your level of satisfaction. This option is a tire drive trainer and one of the best we tested for the type.

Ryan Baham
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