How to make your Turbo Trainer Quieter

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By Robbie Ferri, Cyclist, Personal Trainer, and Group Exercise Instructor.

Indoor cycling is a huge amount of fun and has a ton of benefits for your health and fitness. In recent years we are seeing so many people creating home bike setups and taking their fitness, off the road, out of the gym, and into their own homes. With modern technology like Zwift, we can take ourselves on epic adventures virtually cycling without even leaving our house.

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How to make your Turbo Trainer Quieter Video

One thing people tend not to take into account is how noisy a turbo trainer setup can be. There are many moving parts and friction that gets created when riding indoors, and it can be very annoying, not just for you but for your neighbors too. In this article, we’re going to tell you how to make your turbo trainer quieter and make your neighbors like you again.

What makes the noise?

bike drivetrain 2

Surprisingly the noise of a turbo trainer doesn’t come from one place alone. It actually comes from a few different sources, and understanding what makes the noise makes it much easier to fix. Here’s where the noise comes from;

Vibrations

The main factor which causes noise in a turbo trainer setup is actually the vibrations that come from it with the bike. Depending on where your bike is and what it’s situated on, you can double the volume, so it’s vital you get rid of as much vibration as possible to lower the noise.

Bike Noise

Bikes, although when riding outside, seem very quiet, they tend to get easily lost in the wind noise. They actually can be fairly loud when stationary inside, and this can come as quite a surprise. It’s not an issue, as we will share some tips to quieten it right down.

Turbo Noise

Then you have the turbo trainer. Typically a modern trainer isn’t too loud, but some of the classic trainers you can buy, like a fluid trainer, can be very noisy. Creating resistance doesn’t come easily, and there’s always going to be an element of friction.

wheel-on bike trainer

Our Methods to Quieten your Turbo Trainer

So now we know why turbo trainers are noisy. We’re going to tell you all about our methods to make your turbo trainer quieter and to help you make it a more enjoyable experience. 

Step One: The Right Turbo Trainer

Typically on the market, you will find two different types of turbo trainers. You have wheel-on turbo trainers, and you have direct drive turbo trainers. Here’s what you can expect from each.

Wheel On

A wheel-on trainer is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a trainer where you put the bike into it with the wheel still attached. You can find many cheap bike trainers to buy. They are very easy to store, don’t require a power source, and setting them up can be done in literally a matter of minutes. Although this sounds all great, they do have some disadvantages, such as very few of them have smart capabilities, so there is no auto resistance, and they are very noisy and wear through components on your bike quickly.

wheel on bike trainer from behind

Direct Drive

A direct drive trainer is a little bit more complicated to set up, but you do get a better experience out of it. For this trainer, you will need to remove your rear wheel and cassette and transfer this over to the turbo. Then you attach your bike, plug in the power source, and you’re good to go. These trainers are much easier to use and much quieter, and their smart capabilities mean you can cycle in the world of Zwift with the turbo changing your resistance automatically. 

saris bike trainer zoom out

Which is quieter?

If you are looking for a quieter setup, the direct drive is going to be much better than the wheel on, and it is going to have a lot more function, and structure, and you’re going to have a lot more fun. It’s worth considering upgrading to a direct drive from a wheel on to quieten your trainer.

Step Two: A Clean Bike is a Happy Bike

Looking after your bike is very important, especially when you want the best performance possible and want to enjoy the experience of cycling as much as possible. One thing many people tend to neglect is cleaning and degreasing your bike before you put it on the trainer. 

We highly recommend that when you go to put your bike on the turbo trainer, you’re going to want to clean the bike and then completely degrease the chain thoroughly. You will then want to let it dry and apply dry lube on the bike. You will also want to remove any bags with spares in as punctures don’t often happen indoors.

This is going to make the bike much cleaner for the indoors, it makes the bike much quieter, prolongs the life of your components, and you also save your carpet from being covered in oil which is going to be near impossible to remove. It makes an incredible difference to the sound of the bike and saves valuable watts. 

drive train connected to the bike trainer

Step Three: Make Sure all is Tight

Next, you’re going to want to make sure that everything on the bike is nice and tight. Check your bottle cage bolts and all the bolts around your handlebars. Once you have done this, ensure the bike is attached correctly, and the through axle or quick release on the rear is solid.

One of the most common issues I come across on turbo trainer setups is things being loose which can make the bike extremely noisy and can be extremely distracting. We highly recommend using a torque wrench, and every few weeks, just checking it is all still ok.

Step Four: Location

Now you need to think about location, and this is vital. As I mentioned before its the vibration that makes the majority of the noise is what the bike is on. Putting your bike on a wooden floor upstairs will amplify the noise, it will be very loud, and you will hear this all over the house. 

Putting the bike on ground floor concrete will help absorb the noise much better and make your bike much quieter. Selecting the right surface can completely change the noise the trainer will make. We appreciate you might not have much choice, and sometimes you might just be stuck with what you have got, but you can still do a lot to quieten the bike with our next step.

sari bike trainer

Step Five: Padding

This step is the most important and best value-for-money way to quieten your turbo trainer setup. As we have mentioned in this article many times, a lot of the noise comes from vibration. If we can absorb the vibration, we can completely quieten the turbo trainer down. A great way of doing this is padding under the bike.

You will see many turbo trainer mats on the market which offer noise dampening, but these are only a few mm thick at most. If you upgrade to a very thick mat, you not only get extra protection, but you also remove a huge amount of noise that the bike makes. 

In this video, I am using industrial gym matting, which is about $10 per square meter, and it’s about 12mm thick. It has a huge impact on making the bike much quieter and is very easy to fit together. If you wanted to make it even more absorbing, you could double this up, and you will find that so much of the noise will go away, especially when it comes to wooden floors.

bike drivetrain

Step Six: ERG Mode

If you are lucky enough to have a smart turbo trainer and use Zwift, TrainerRoad, or other applications, you have the capability to use ERG mode. ERG is automatic resistance adjustments. So you can set a workout profile, and the turbo trainer will force you to ride at a certain power no matter what the gear or cadence you are at. 

One thing you will notice on your turbo trainer is when you are in higher gears or very low gears. The bike is much noisier. This is because the chain line isn’t straight, and it makes the bike really noisy. Using the ERG mode to change your resistance instead of the gears means the bike stays much quieter and sounds much less erratic. 

Quietest Turbo Trainers on the Market

I have been lucky enough in my career to try many turbo trainers, and here are the ones I have found to be the quietest. 

Saris H3

The Saris H3 is an incredible turbo trainer and for the price you get a huge amount of technology. It’s also surprisingly quiet and comes with an excellent warranty.

Tacx Flux S

When it comes to turbo trainers you will hear a lot of Tacx trainers. They are incredible quality, look amazing, and also are very quiet as far as turbo trainers go.

Tacx Flow

The Tacx Flow is one of the only smart wheel on turbo trainers on the market. You can see how supported the unit is with the large feet and for a wheel on turbo trainer it is surprisingly quiet.

FAQ

How do I stop my Turbo Trainer from vibrating?

The best thing to do is ensure the bike is all tightly attached to the turbo trainer and get it on a surface that will absorb the vibrations such as a padded mat.

How do I stop my turbo trainer from squeaking?

Typically if a turbo trainer squeaks, it will either be loose somewhere or require some oil. Check the chain to ensure it’s lubricated, and then check everything is tight and secure.

Can I use a turbo trainer upstairs in an apartment?

Of course, but you’re going to want to make sure it is on a thick padded mat. You could always consider a spinning bike if you were worried about noise as they are much quieter.

A Final Note

How to make your Turbo Trainer Quiet

Having a turbo trainer is a lot of fun and makes fitness so much easier. Though it being very noisy and upsetting your neighbors completely ruins the experience and takes away from the fun of it greatly. Using our step by step guide, you can eliminate the majority of the noise from your trainer and get back to having fun and smashing those watts in. Thanks for reading!

Robbie Ferri

A Personal Trainer and Ultra Cyclist living in King's Lynn in Norfolk, UK. From Ultra Cycling World Records to Bikepacking Races and a huge amount of time on the gym floor training myself and clients my experience when it comes to Health and Fitness is vast.

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