The FDW Bike Trainer is a baseline throwback to the old austere days of shifter cables and high-cadence workouts. If the requirement for this trainer is that it gets your legs moving, you will likely find the trainer to be the Lowest Price Technically Acceptable, which is the extent of the evaluative basis for most privatized government services. It's really a no-frills affair. You get a basic indoor bike trainer with a tiny bit of shifting capacity. Setup is effortless, so it's a quick and dirty way to get upright and spinning and could be a low priced addition to any at-home training facility as long as you keep your expectations just as low.Editor's Note: This gear review was updated on January 15, 2022, to include details on which products we would recommend to a friend.
FDW Bike Trainer Review
Cons: Limited resistance, cable shifter, durability and quality issues
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|Pros||Very affordable, light, easy to carry, store, and move around||Lower price range for a premium trainer, good responsiveness, smooth, high power accuracy||Quick setup, easy operation, durable, stable, communicates with training apps, low noise||Lightweight, affordable, durable design||Quick setup, easy to move around, light, simple design|
|Cons||Limited resistance, cable shifter, durability and quality issues||Still relatively expensive, requires calibration, heavy, slightly aggressive in ERG mode||Limited max resistance, roller can heat up and accelerate tire wear, no power data, no control||Loud, mag resistance has limitations, assembly takes some effort, requires speed sensor purchased separately to connect to third-party apps||Louder, unrealistic road feel, low max power, no controllable features, not supported by many popular training apps|
|Bottom Line||If you can't possibly spend more, this trainer works to get the legs spinning||A more affordable premium direct drive trainer to get you through winter, rain, and turbo-charged training sessions||A simple, affordable, and highly functional tire drive trainer with the option to use it with training apps||This is a utilitarian mag trainer that provides more reliability than others in the low-end price range||This is the trainer you get when you’re just trying to get your legs spinning without paying a ton|
|Rating Categories||FDW Bike Trainer||Saris H3 Direct Drive||Saris Fluid 2||Saris Mag+||BalanceFrom Bike Tr...|
|Connectivity and Power Accuracy (25%)|
|Road Feel (25%)|
|Specs||FDW Bike Trainer||Saris H3 Direct Drive||Saris Fluid 2||Saris Mag+||BalanceFrom Bike Tr...|
|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
When we test bike trainers, we do our best to eke out every detail about performance and expectations, then try to exploit or break those points. We keep an eye on the right users as well. That's especially important for trainers like the FDW, where the machine has no hope to compete with the high-end bike trainers, but it should meet the needs of many riders who wouldn't need or want all the offerings of the upper range. Indeed, this trainer is best suited to riders just looking to get their legs spinning for minimal cost.
Connectivity and Power Accuracy
The FDW is relatively simple for this measure. Understandably, it's not going to rank up anywhere near the high-end trainers. That said, we were pretty unimpressed with its performance here. We couldn't find any power curve information on it to get a good baseline for comparisons to test against our power meter and across trainers in our lineup. Even so, the magnetic resistance unit with its shifter left a lot wanting. A basic fluid trainer probably would have done better here, despite the extra weight.
Tire drive trainers tend to feel less realistic than direct drive trainers anyway, but magnetic resistance units also tend to have a less natural push-pull feel. The physics are different for magnets, and they're not as excellent of an approximation as fluid (or electronic/controllable-smart, of course). The FDW is no exception here. It has a too-smooth feel that you can easily spin out against. You don't feel the inertia of the road; you feel either very limited resistance at the lower resistance level or too much at the higher level as you manually adjust the resistance up or down. As we say for this trainer, "any port in a storm," so it will certainly do the job of getting you on the bike and spinning inside without hurting your bank account, but it's really, really basic.
Design is an area where we have some qualms. One qualm, really. It's in the fastener that locks the rear axle in place. A grooved plastic sleeve helps the bolt tighten and lock. The FDW's sleeve and bolt don't fit together very well, so getting the bolt to lock was a huge pain. But for the mission of bringing this review to you, we would have packed that baby up and sent it right back.
Otherwise, the design is pretty streamlined. The resistance unit is fairly basic, using magnets to give you eight resistance levels. You don't get the same smooth, gradual feel you might get with a fluid unit, but it's nice to be able to control the resistance if you want.
A major selling point of the FDW is that it's effortless to set up and doesn't take much time. It's not exactly plug-and-play, but it's not far off. Instructions for assembly are included, and so are the tools to get you there.
The hardest part is getting the bolt into the resistance unit, but a little frustrated jiggling and teeth clenching should do the trick. It's unavoidable with tight fits like this, and you get that for most tire drive trainers where you're assembling the resistance units.
Once you have everything in its proper place, all of your bolts, screws, and knobs, you're ready to throw the new skewer with the rounded acorn nuts on the bike and get the axle locked in. Here's the area where we had the biggest complaint about the model because the FDW's plastic locking shaft split and wouldn't tighten down until we did a lot of serious man-handling and improvising. Eventually, we got it to tighten down and hold the frame upright.
From there, you only need to tighten the resistance unit up against your rear tire so that there's just enough tension that your tire doesn't slip when you give it a little gas. Once you've done that, grab the cable with the shifter and attach it to your handlebars, and you are ready to go.
Portability is the primary area where this trainer excels. It's really easy to pack up and put away when not in use. It folds into a small footprint so you can stash it in the corner, closet (don't forget about it in there!), under your bed, or even in a suitcase for travel. If your Tetris-packing game isn't top-level, you can even remove the resistance unit and store it separately from the base.
Should You Buy the FDW?
If your goal is just to set up an at-home training gym and you want to spin your legs with a bike you already own, the FDW might fit your needs. However, if your goal is to train seriously or improve your skills or endurance, we think there are much better options out there to consider. However, if budget is a concern or you want something that works, it is serviceable but can't come anywhere near the performance of higher-priced options.
What Other Bike Trainer Should You Consider?
No matter your goals, we suspect almost any trainer in this review would be a better fit than the FDW. If your wallet is limited, we like the Saris Mag+ and feel it offers more bang for the buck than the FDW. While almost triple the price, we think what it provides is worth the added expense. If your budget can stretch some, then the Kinetic Road Machine Control is a good middle-of-the-road option with a lower price tag than the highest-end options.
— Ryan Baham
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