The Best Fitness and Fuel Products for Cyclists
By cuterose

The Best Fitness and Fuel Products for Cyclists

19/07/2022  |   336 Views

What do you need to pedal far, ride fast, and crush climbs? Equipment that supports your efforts, food to feed your every mile—and a strong body, built on and off the bike. With this list of the best workout gear and food picks, all tested by our team, you’ll have exactly what you need to reveal your peak performance. All you have to do is go for it.

The benefit of indoor bikes and trainers: You can ride all year long without worrying about the weather. Plus, thanks to current cycling technology, you can import your favorite local routes, immerse yourself in virtual outdoor settings, follow a coach’s workout program, or ride along to an energetic instructor’s intervals. In other words, you can progress your fitness while getting an anything-but-boring ride. Before you buy, consider your budget and whether you want a full setup or a system that connects with your current bike. Here are our top picks for all scenarios.

Related StoryHow to Choose an Indoor Bike TrainerTrevor RaabKICKR$3,499.99SHOP NOW

This is a dedicated training bike for riders who don’t want the wear and tear that may come from putting their bike on the trainer, or those who simply want the best-quality indoor bike available. While the Kickr Bike costs as much as or more than many great bikes you can ride outside, what you get for the cost is a highly adjustable and integrated training experience. You can customize your Kickr Bike fit through five points of adjustability, set up your gearing to match your preferred drivetrain, and collect all your data measurements with accuracy. This top bike also connects seamlessly with other Wahoo devices, such as Elemnt computers and Headwind units.

Courtesy PelotonPeloton$2,495.00SHOP NOW

When it comes to indoor cycling with a studio-like experience, Peloton still reigns over the rest. It’s tough to beat the energy and motivation the instructors bring to every class, or their well-stocked playlists that push you to cruise through intervals and shatter PRs. With the leaderboard and shout-outs in real time, you also feel like part of a community—one in which you want to show up every day and ride a little faster or crank up the resistance. The bike itself also stands out for its super smooth, whisper-quiet ride. With the Auto-Follow feature, it automatically adjusts resistance to meet the instructor’s requests so you can simply focus on smashing that climb. The large screen and speakers also make for a more immersive experience. And if you’re doing workouts off the bike—from yoga to strength training to HIIT—you can choose from Peloton’s large library of classes and swivel and/or tilt the screen so you can still see the instructor. ($39/month for Peloton all-access membership)

Read our full review of the Peloton Bike+.

Photo Courtesy Kinetic Road MachineKinetic Road Machine | Smart 2 Bike$224.00SHOP NOW

If power data is all you need and you don’t want to fuss with removing your rear wheel to use your trainer, this one is for you. (And it’s easier on the wallet.) While the Road Machine Smart 2 doesn’t automatically control resistance, it does connect with training apps, as well as ANT+ and Bluetooth-enabled computers. Its stable base, with floor-safe rubber feet, 6.25-pound flywheel, and big roller, means it can find a permanent spot in your home, but the foldable legs and wheel-on design make storing it out of the way more convenient. Keep in mind that the Road Machine Smart 2 is louder than most direct-drive-style units. This trainer fits 22- to 29-inch wheels. There are adapters available to fit most thru-axles, but check your bike owner’s manual for any warnings against using wheel-on trainers.

Photo courtesy of KickrKICKR Smart$1,199.99SHOP NOW

One of the most reliable and user-friendly trainers out there, the newest Kickr measures power more accurately—to within 1 percent up to 2,200 watts—and allows for some side-to-side movement while riding. Up to 5 degrees of lateral motion is just enough to feel more comfortable than being locked in place, but not so much that the bike moves unnaturally. The Kickr can also simulate gradients of up to 20 percent. This trainer comes preinstalled with an 11-speed Shimano/SRAM-compatible cassette and plays well with most third-party virtual cycling apps.

Related StoryFull Review: The Wahoo Kickr
Trevor RaabElite Nero Interactive$999.99SHOP NOW

If you hate the “locked-in” feel of a trainer but want to use third-party training platforms, give Elite’s Nero interactive rollers a spin. The Nero is a great mash-up of old-school training methods and modern technology and connectivity. On its own (not plugged in or connected to any apps), the Nero functions just like a set of standard rollers, except it offers progressive resistance, simulating slopes of up to 7 percent. The rollers also slide back and forth on a fixed frame, which makes for a natural ride, as the bike has the freedom to move side to side and forward and back. The Nero also allows you to join virtual cycling, with app-controlled resistance.

Discover how to choose between rollers and a trainer.

These tools help you track your stats and get the most of your training, whether you’re knocking off miles on the road, working to win a virtual race, or just looking for a little peace of mind.

Best for Tracking

Strava, a bible of routes, segments, paces, and LocalLegends for cyclists. (free, $60/year for premium; iOS and Google Play)

Best for Training

TrainingPeaks, for training plans that are tailored to your level and your goals. (free, $20/month for premium; iOS and Google Play)

Best for Competition

Zwift, to make indoor cycling more exciting and competitive, with virtual iconic routes and live events. ($15/month; iOS and Google Play)

Best for Cross-Training

Apple Fitness+ for a mix of strength, HIIT, yoga, Pilates, and meditation, all with top instructors. ($10/month; iOS)

Best for Meditation

Calm to get you centered with guided sessions and help you sleep better with full programs. ($70/year; iOS and Google Play)

Can you hold a boat pose? How about a plank? If the answer is no, it’s time to start strength training, says Mike Schultz, C.S.C.S., a USA Cycling–certified coach and the founder of Highland Training in Pittsburgh. The core is often the weakest point on a cyclist’s body, and a strong core is crucial for maintaining steadiness and strong mechanics. “You could be producing 400 watts with your legs, but your speed will decline when your core muscles (upper back, abs, and hips) fatigue,” Schultz says. “The link between your extremities then becomes unstable, lessening your ability to handle the bike.”

Strength training also protects your body from injury, which keeps you in the saddle longer, says Chris Myers, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., coauthor of Triathlon Training with Power. “You need to build strength to develop power output; plus, it offers longevity, helping to strengthen bones, tendons, and ligaments,” he says.

Schultz and Meyers often turn to dumbbells, kettlebells, and suspension trainers for strength workouts, since they’re readily available, reasonably priced, and offer tons of variety. But if you want a fun new challenge for your at-home routine, these tools should have a place on your mat.

Adam HoffFitFighter Steelhose Home Gym$225.00SHOP NOW

Made of real firehose and filled with recycled steel balls, these free weights can add varied resistance and a span of new moves to strength sessions. Ranging in weight from five to 50 pounds, you can push, pull, toss, drag, or rotate with these—perfect for total-body strength building and upping the ante on core-stability challenges, like plank pull-throughs or woodchops. For $10 a month you also get access to plenty of workouts through the website that incorporate these weights. ($75 for 5-pound pair or one 15-pound weight)

Adam HoffLes Mills Smartbar & Weight Set$429.00SHOP NOW

Deadlifts, squats, rows—all super important strength exercises for a cyclist’s power and posture, and moves in which a barbell can help you max out the benefits. For home training, it’s hard to find a barbell with easily switchable weight plates and that doesn’t take up much space. This one checks both boxes.

The Best Fitness and Fuel Products for Cyclists

The square-shaped weights slide easily on and off the bar, but the clamp technology means they won’t slip while you’re lifting. The weight plates also act as free weights—incorporate them into moves like lateral raises or suitcase lunges and consider this a two-for-one. ($429 for the bar and three sets of weights; $20–$100 for additional weights)

Adam HoffCrossrope Get Lean Weighted Jump Rope$119.00SHOP NOW

Enhance your cardio with intervals—and add power to your lower half to propel you forward—by incorporating jump rope workouts into your routine. You could opt for any inexpensive rope on Amazon, but with this one you get a set of comfy, no-slip handles that snap onto high-quality quarter- and half-pound ropes.

Even better: You gain free access to the Crossrope app, featuring tons of jump rope workouts with bodyweight exercises mixed into the routines so you move your muscles in a range of directions. You can also watch skill tutorials or take on challenges. This set is worth the extra cash for the endless options on how to use the rope, premium quality, and a little extra burn with the added weight. ($60/year for premium app access)

Adam HoffNike Metcon$130.00SHOP NOW

A training shoe should have a wide toe box so your digits can spread and drive into the floor on lifts. You also need a stable base underfoot, especially in the heel, so you feel secure as you’re doing squats, deadlifts, presses, and rows. The Nike Metcon 7 provides all those must-have features in one good-looking package.

Adam HoffHypervolt$299.00SHOP NOW

If you’ve already got the original Hypervolt at home, the Hypervolt 2 might not warrant splurging for an upgrade just yet. However, this newer model brings subtle yet important tweaks. The pill-shaped (rather than circular) handle and lighter overall weight mean the Hypervolt 2 offers a more comfortable grip. That’s especially evident during extended sessions on tricky spots like your hamstrings. You’ll be able to squeeze about 60 more minutes of juice from the battery (for three hours total), and get a deeper massage from the longer stroke length. (Though the top speed on the update is now slower than on the former, the overall experience is “punchier,” since the head extends farther out from the device with each oscillation.)

Overall, you still get the best parts of the Hypervolt, including three speeds powered by a whisper-quiet 60-watt motor, five interchangeable head attachments, and fast smartphone pairing. For guided recovery sessions designed by experts, pair the device with Hyperice’s app and follow along to personalized routines—it’ll even automatically adjust the speed as you go.

If you’re ready to support your rides with strength training but just don’t know where to start, you can now purchase what’s basically a full in-home studio, featuring equipment that offers instructor-led workouts, form checks, and weight suggestions. Not only does this gear help you build strength and endurance through weight training and HIIT, but you also get plenty of cross-training options, from yoga to Pilates. Here are two of our favorite systems:

Courtest of Tonal

It’s always tough to determine which weights to use for different exercises, making sure you’re challenged enough to see gains without raising your injury risk. Tonal makes this decision easier—and more fun. Once you get the machine installed at home, you’ll go through a weight test on four movements: a seated lat pulldown, seated overhead press, bench press, and neutral-grip deadlift. This scores your upper-body, core, and lower-body strength, based on how fast you move through the exercises, your range of motion, your power output, and where you start to struggle. It will then use this information as a guideline to choose your best initial weight in every exercise on the platform.

Besides helping you get started, Tonal can also take your current training to the next level with smart features. For example, eccentric mode adds more weight to the lengthening phase of a move, helping you efficiently build strength. The device also has weeks-long sports-based programs, designed to help athletes like cyclists build power and endurance.

In addition to programs and on-demand classes, Tonal also has live workouts scheduled a few times throughout the day. Pick the type that motivates you most, or switch it up depending on how you feel that day. If you’re in the middle of a program but want a change, the system suggests a complementary workout. ($2,995, plus $495 for the smart accessories, including handles, bar, rope, bench, roller, and mat; $49/month for Tonal membership)

Courtesy of Tempo

If you want smart strength training advice without the big price tag, this is your pick. With the Tempo Move, you get dumbbells, a small portable stand to store them in, and a dock for your iPhone XS/XR (or higher)—all for under $500. The Move system utilizes your phone camera and connects to a TV via HDMI for a bigger display. Together with its smart weights, it offers feedback on form, counts your reps, and gives advice on whether you should go up or down in weight, depending on your pace through each lift. With the corresponding app, you also have access to tons of instructor-led workouts to follow, so you’re never lost on how to continue progressing or what to do for a new challenge. ($495; $39/month for Tempo membership)

Screenshot from Sydney Cummings YouTube Channel

Build strength in your entire body or practice high-intensity interval training right at home with the upbeat energy of NASM-certified trainer Sydney Cummings. She’ll often encourage you to grab a heavy set of weights, but she also offers plenty of modifications for those who need it. Each of her workouts varies in length and intensity, often following circuit-style training. What you can expect from each one: genuine motivation, challenging exercises, tons of variety, and smart programming. Follow her monthlong programs or mix and match workouts on her channel. No matter what you go for, you’ll finish sweaty and proud. (free)

Screenshots from Yoga With Adrienne YouTube Channel

Gain flexibility and core strength and work through full ranges of motion—all must-haves for cyclists—with Adriene Mishler’s yoga videos. Her voice brings instant calm to her routines, while her flows help your body get the restoration it needs. Mishler offers tons of options on her page, with yoga classes ranging in duration from under 10 minutes to 40-plus minutes. Opt for a 30-day yoga challenge, or go for single sessions with a focus on mental improvement like stress relief, forgiveness, or grounding. She also has sequences curated specifically for cyclists and their common ailments, such as tight hips, tired legs, or sensitive knees. (free)

Learn the 5 best weight machines for cyclists.

Try the best leg workouts for max power on the bike.

Best SmartwatchApple Watch Series 7AppleApple$399.00SHOP NOW

Apple made biking a priority with its latest watchOS 8 update and Apple Watch Series 7 release. Now, riders can simply start pedaling and it’ll pick up your workout, thanks to the automatic workout reminder feature for outdoor cycling. Plus, it has auto-pause and resume, which means you can just ride—no need to check your watch every time you hit a stoplight. You also get better safety measures, such as fall detection. But our favorite update is simple: The Series 7 has a bigger screen, which makes reading your stats and texting your cycling friends easier. Also, the screen’s front crystal is twice as thick as that of the Series 6, so it’ll better withstand bumps and scrapes in the gym or on the trails. You’ll still need to plug it in for a charge on a daily basis, but the battery now goes from zero to 100 percent in just 75 minutes.

Adam Hoff

Best Bike WatchELEMNT RIVAL Multisport GPS$329.99SHOP NOW

Do you ride, and also run or swim? Maybe you’re someone who does all three in one event? Well, smartwatches aren’t just for triathletes. If you’re a cyclist who wants to track ride metrics without something cluttering up the handlebars or without being distracted by the constant stream of data, a watch provides a perfect option. The Elemnt Rival pairs with power meters and smart trainers, tracks data from all of your rides, runs, or swims, and can even seamlessly combine all three into a single workout. While the Rival lacks mapping and navigation features, it performs well for those needing accurate, functional, and easy-to-access data during or after a workout or a race.

Adam Hoff

Best for Tracking RecoveryWhoop Strap$324.00SHOP NOW

You need two main ingredients to become a better athlete: putting in hard, meaningful training efforts, followed by intentional recovery breaks. That’s why we like Whoop. This platform distills the complexities of training into two simple and easy-to-understand percentage scores in the companion app, one for daily strain and one for recovery. The new 4.0 sensor adds tech that boosts accuracy and captures skin temperature and blood oxygen levels. The sensor itself is smaller than the 3.0, so it’s more stable on the wrist and easier to slide inside Whoop Body workout garments. While the subscription style won’t appeal to everyone, it can serve as a reminder each month to stay committed to making progress.

Adam Hoff

Best Bike ComputerHammerhead Karoo$399.00SHOP NOW

We keep talking about this cycling computer because it’s just that good. The display is large and crystal-clear, it flawlessly integrates with apps such as Strava, and there are tons of useful features that are beautifully displayed. Due to the Karoo 2’s larger size, reading maps and directions while on the go becomes easier and safer. Plus, Hammerhead is constantly pushing updates to the system wirelessly.

Adam Hoff

SRAM Force AXS Power$838.00SHOP NOW

If you have a SRAM AXS 12-speed bike and want to add a power meter to your crankset for training or racing, this is the best, most consistent setup out there, with options for every 12-speed drivetrain configuration. Using the proven Quarq DZero platform, the AXS Spider and Force AXS models use an asymmetrical spider design that enables you to use this power meter in either 1x or 2x configurations. For 1x drivetrains, the Force 1 AXS is a single-ring setup and comes with a narrow-wide chainring. You can purchase Force 1 AXS power meter crankset for $759, or just the spider for $458.

Assioma$636.00SHOP NOW

The Assioma Duo and Duo-Shi pedals offer precise, reliable power measurement along with the easy swap-ability of a pedal-based power meter. Choose from the Look Kéo-compatible Duo, or upgrade your existing Shimano SPD-SL road pedals with the Duo-Shi spindle kit. Both are made in Italy, have rechargeable batteries with 50 hours of ride time, and are compatible with ANT+ and Bluetooth- enabled smartphones and cycling computers.

Courtesy 4iiiiPrecision$324.99SHOP NOW

With supply chain issues making it difficult to get parts, 4iiii has an option to upgrade to a power meter using the crank you already own. The Precision 3 provides single-side power measurements via a 9-gram sensor that is compatible with a wide range of road, gravel, and mountain frames. It has a coin cell battery that lasts for up to 800 hours, connects to ANT+ and Bluetooth-enabled devices, and has an accuracy of +/– 1 percent. Buy the Precision 3 on a new left crankarm, or 4iiii will affix one to your existing crankarm at its facility in Canada or England.

Adam Hoff

Before you clip in, you want to fuel up, and for that you need to grab some carbs. “Think of carbs as the first fuel choice,” says Megan Robinson, R.D., a Philadelphia-based sports dietitian. Robinson suggests going for easily digestible options. This helps prevent your muscles from fatigue as they run on glycogen. She also advises cutting back on fiber in the days leading up to a long ride or big race, and eating two to three hours before you start pedal-ing. If you have more time to digest, go for a meal with a little fat and protein, too. But if you’re tight on time, have a smaller meal or even just an electrolyte drink. A quick hit of caffeine will also perk you up. Here are a few of our preride go-to’s:

Clean Energy Smoothie, made with just organic fruits, veggies, and flaxseeds so you get a healthy dose of produce to go. ($24 for 8)

Mush Oatmeal Cups, ready-to-eat oats with a mix of whole ingredients, plenty of flavors, and stored in a portable package. (from $39 for 6)

Maurten Drink Mix 320 for an easy-to-digest dose of carbs with a side of extra hydration. (Sip it pre-, mid-, or postride). ($48 for 14)

Verb Energy Bar to get a quick hit of caffeine (as much as an espresso) and calories to perk you up before heading out. ($20 for 12)

Adam Hoff

Riding for longer than 60 minutes? You’ll need to fill the tank. Aim for about 120 to 125 calories per hour, Robinson says. That should mainly consist of carbs (going for 30 to 60 grams an hour), but because cyclists don’t have to worry about food jostling in their stomachs as in other high-impact activities, a little protein and fat is good, too. What works for you midride depends on your preferences and what your body can handle. You can always go for a PB&J, but if you have a sensitive stomach or are headed out for a century ride, try one of our other favorites:

UnTapped All Natural Athletic Fuel, made of pure maple syrup and the option for extra sodium, plus raspberry or cocoa flavoring. ($10 for 5)

UCAN Edge Fuel to Go for a slower-acting carbohydrate blend that provides long-lasting energy and is easier to digest. ($33 for 12)

SkratchLabs Hydration Drink Mix to hydrate with the right dose of electrolytes in a powdered mix using only real strawberries and lemons for flavor. ($20 for 20 servings)

Spring Energy Gels, featuring whole ingredients suited for sensitive stomachs, and a hit of protein and fat for those going long. (from $7.50 for 2)

Adam Hoff

Aim to get in more carbs with protein postride to refuel and repair your muscles and help build them back up. Robinson suggests going for a snack with a 3:1 carb-to-protein ratio (or as close to that as you can get) and having it within about 30 minutes of your finish. A glass of chocolate milk will do, but so will these delicious bars, all made of wholesome ingredients:

Kind Energy Bars, which hit that perfect 3:1 ratio and come in yummy chocolate and peanut butter flavors and combos. ($14 for 12)

Picky Bars for a mix of macronutrients, lots of flavors, and a sweet touch. (from $20 for 10)

Kate’s Real Food Bars made of organic ingredients, tasty blends, and no hidden additives. ($30 for 12)

Mallory CrevelingSenior Health and Fitness EditorMallory Creveling, an ACE-certified personal trainer and RRCA-certified run coach, joined the Runner's World and Bicycling team in August 2021.Tara SeplavyDeputy EditorAs Deputy Editor, Tara Seplavy leads Bicycling’s product test team; after having previously led product development and sourcing for multiple bike brands, run World Championship winning mountain bike teams, wrenched at renowned bicycle shops in Brooklyn, raced everything from criteriums to downhill, and ridden bikes on six different continents (landing herself in hospital emergency rooms in four countries and counting).