BalanceFrom Bike Trainer Review
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BalanceFrom Bike Trainer
$70.75 at Amazon
|$499 List||$369.99 at Backcountry|
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$33.78 at Amazon
|Pros||Quick setup, easy to move around, light, simple design||Affordable direct-drive trainer, good responsiveness, quiet||Easy to set up, affordable, smart controls||Quick setup, easy operation, durable, stable, communicates with training apps, low noise||Very 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 apps||Lack of handle, less accuracy than more premium models||Loud, lower accuracy than direct-drive trainers||Limited max resistance, roller can heat up and accelerate tire wear, no power data, no control||Limited 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 ton||The Zwift Hub brings direct-drive features to an affordable price point to help you crush indoor rides||Our favorite tire-drive trainer with smart trainer performance and top-notch portability is offered at an excellent price||A simple, affordable, and highly functional tire drive trainer with the option to use it with training apps||If you like to save money, this trainer works to get the legs spinning|
|Rating Categories||BalanceFrom Bike Tr...||Zwift Hub||Tacx Flow Smart Tra...||Saris Fluid 2||FDW Bike Trainer|
|Connectivity and Power Accuracy (25%)|
|Road Feel (25%)|
|Specs||BalanceFrom Bike Tr...||Zwift Hub||Tacx Flow Smart Tra...||Saris Fluid 2||FDW Bike Trainer|
|Drive Type||Tire drive||Direct drive||Tire drive||Tire drive||Tire drive|
|Weight||19 lbs||33 lbs||21 lbs||21 lbs||17.6 lbs|
|Type of Trainer||Standard||Smart||Smart||Smart||Standard|
|Communication Protocol||None||ANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth FTMS||ANT+, Bluetooth||ANT+ BlueGiga USB||None|
|Dimensions L-H-W (inches)||22"x22"x15"||19.5" x 24" x 18.1"||26.6" x 25.6" x 16.1"||28" x 21.5" x 15.7"||23.9" x 20.1" x 7.6"|
|Storage Dimensions LxHxW||22"x22"x15"||19.5" x 24" x 18.1"||22.2" x 16.1" x 9.7"||20.5" x 9" x 20.75"||23.9" x 20.1" x 7.6"|
|Power Comparison||N/A||5-7 watts, 2.5%||10 watts, 5%||10 watts, 5%||N/A|
|Roll Out Time @ 200 watts||5 seconds||42 seconds||6 seconds||15 seconds||5 seconds|
|Flywheel||5 lbs, magnetic||10.3 lbs||3.5 lbs, Magnetic||3 lbs||5 lbs|
|Axle compatibility||130mm and 135mm || May need 3rd party adaptors for 142mm and 148mm||130mm and 135mm skewer and 142mm and 148mm thru axles||130mm and 135mm, adapters available for other widths||120mm, 130mm, 135mm compatible || Thru-axle available for 142mm and 148mm through CycleOps||130mm and 135mm || May need 3rd party adaptors for 142mm and 148mm|
|Additional Notes||Skewer||8, 9, 10, 11, or 12 speed HyperGlide cassette included||Skewer||Skewer||Skewer|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The BalanceFrom Bike Trainer is a standard trainer without bells or whistles. You can plug and play out of the box after you bolt on the resistance unit. It's a 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 more range.
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 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 increase 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.
Consistent with our expectations for this sort of trainer, the BalanceFrom felt mechanical. It's a magnetic tire drive trainer, meaning that the resistance doesn't have that nice natural feel you get with the fluid and smart electronic trainers that can simulate road inertia 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.
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 smart 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.
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 attach the unit. 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.
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 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.
Should You Buy the BalanceForm?
If you're only looking to spin your tires and save some money, you might find a reason to buy this trainer. However, compared to the other models, there are better options. Sadly, 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 besides its standard category and low price.
What Other Bike Trainer Should You Consider?
While it might work if you all want to get your wheels spinning, the FDW Trainer is cheaper with a similar overall low score and can fulfill this function. 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 Zwift Hub or the Saris Fluid 2, which is almost many 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.
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