Bike Trainer Noise Reduction: How to Quieten Indoor Cycling

Staying fit isn’t the easiest task in today’s world. Let me tell you, being someone who writes for a living and thus works from home does not do you any favors when you start evaluating the best ways to shed a spare tire around your middle.

Hell, even just staying in generally good shape is a challenge. Who has the time, these days, to go to the gym, to take hours out of their day to devote to that?

It’s not impossible, but you tend to sacrifice a lot, and with my schedule and family obligations, it’s no mean feat. I’m sure a lot of you are in the same boat, and that’s why we all decided to get a bike trainer.

Gloriously easy and reliable, extremely effective exercise. Seriously, here’s just a few benefits:

  • Cardio workouts that take care of your heart
  • Weight loss and fitness gain
  • Ease of use (it’s literally as easy as riding a bike)
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    Accessibility (it’s in your own home. You lose not even a minute beyond the time spent exercising)

But then reality reared its ugly head. I’m sure you’ve all lived it too, it’s almost impossible to avoid.

The noise. It started right up. I'm going to be providing some general advice that I wish someone had told me when I had these problems.

reduce bike trainer noise

That way, hopefully, someone else won’t have to struggle and try to come up with solutions to these issues. Because as great as a bike trainer is, unless you pay a lot or live totally alone, in a remote house, it’s going to annoy some people with its racket.

How to Reduce Bike Trainer Noise

First of all, let’s identify the types of bikes there are and what the possible causes of noise there might be with them:

  • Fluid- Least likely of them to produce any noise due to it just working with silicon and thus not having any bits that might cause trouble. However, the tires, as with the others, might prove a bit of an issue.
  • Rollers- Fairly quiet as well but the tires and, more so, the bike chain, could be a problem. Not exactly too worrisome, but still a potential spot of trouble.
  • Magnetic- These can be loud. The resistance unit, not just the tires, can give you a real ruckus. Still not a loud option, precisely and regarded as a much quieter one than the final type.
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    Wind- These are the loudest bikes by far. The tires can make noise, sure, but the fan is usually the culprit and it causes the sort of unholy issue that most will complain about.
quietest bike trainers

Now, before we get into more concrete and specific solutions, let's cover some general tips and tricks to ensure you check everything possible. These are the things you ought to do before you explore the options listed after this:

  1. Check to see if the speed of your pedaling has anything to do with the noise and how loud it is. If it seems like that might be the case, make sure you check all the parts for damage.
  2. If there doesn’t appear to be any, try to find if your specific model is perhaps older and thus has either a resistor fan that causes the noise or a fan cooling the magnetic resistor. If that is the case, you might be out of luck, since those older models were discounted for that precise reason.
  3. A possible fix for this is to change up your workout, by increasing resistance and lowering the gear. You get largely the same results but by necessity, the noise produced is dampened, due to what you've elected to do.
  4. A generally useful tip is to look for your type of trainer online. Specifically, videos of it on YouTube so you can make comparisons. We picked out the 5 best quietest trainers here.
  5. There is a lot to be said about seeing if other bikes of the same model tend to be noisy or not. If the baseline seems to be less noise than you have, then exploring some more involved and invasive options becomes a certainty.

Here are my general recommendations for reducing or even eliminating your bike trainer’s noise:

1. Check the Tires

Tires are a noisy part of all 4 bike types. There’s almost no avoiding the fact that they will make some noise, even if comparatively little.

The higher the number of treads, the more ridges they have, the higher the chance of them producing a disturbance is.  Keep in mind that tires being a bad fit for the bike and setup, in general, could be a major issue as well, even if it's all meant to be stationary.

Now, let’s look at some general tips on what to avoid and why:

  • Never let your tires deflate- The firmer and more filled a tire is, the less noise it makes. The droopier and flatter the tire the more you’re going to be made aware of that.
  • Never use anything but the smoothest tire possible- Think something like your old tires you used for cycling on the road, that’s expendable and will give you good results. You’d be surprised at how useful those old things can be in reducing noise.
  • Do not hesitate to replace the tires- If it comes down to it, don’t balk at paying a bit more to replace poor tires. You even have specially designed options for that, intended to be used for precisely this purpose.

2. Pad Everything Possible

This might seem like an obvious one, but vibrations can cause a lot of noise, which, trust me, the bike trainer produces. There’s simply no avoiding the fact that this might be a large part of your problem, especially if you have neighbors.

How do you stop these vibrations, however? Well, there are a few ways, and let’s explore them now:

  • Smoothen your tires- It was said before, but in this case, I’m recommending a very odd sort of DIY solution: Use electrical tape, stuck to the tires. This is a method a lot of people swear works for them, so I won’t discount it.
  • Get some towels down- The more and thicker they are, the better. Using a bunch of towels will definitely dampen things, even if it might get awkward but that's what trial and error are for.
  • Go for something more heavy duty- A yoga mat or even a gym mat is ideal here. These are designed to be thick and deaden noise and their ability to take in even this kind of noise will surely serve you well.
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    Use a carpet- A thick, shaggy rug or something along those lines is ideal. It serves the purpose of absorbing the noise your bike trainer lets out and as a barrier that muffles any noise that does escape, as it does so.

3. Reducing Unit Noise (And the Chain’s Noise)

These are methods that have to do with either magnetic or wind type bike trainers, alongside rollers when it comes to the chain portion. Caution is advised when implementing any of these in order to avoid any mishaps or possibly causing a break somewhere.

So, let’s take a look at a general overview of how you can at least reduce the noise made by the magnetic resistance unit and the fan. Keep in mind that this method is something you need to be prepared to work on for a bit and it’s not going to be easy.

In both cases, you’ll need something along the lines of this. As an alternative, you can try to make a box and line it with something else you feel will dampen the noise well, that’s up to you.

When it comes to reducing fan noise, the trick is largely in finding out how to place your soundproofing in a way that maximizes coverage but lessens the impact on the fan’s output. You don’t want to end up with a fan that’s not really working as intended, because it’s too covered.

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That’s why your best bet is to try and encircle the parts of the fan that aren’t actively blowing air in its capacity as a resistor. This, at least, allows for sound dampening while not making the efficiency of it a problem.

The magnetic unit is a bit easier since you can just cover it in the soundproofing. Be very careful of not using foam that's too thick, as that might interfere with the ability of the unit to act as a resistor. It's a balancing act to be sure.

When it comes to chain noise, you’re at least not given many options, nor are they tricky. Simply put, you need to make sure your chain isn’t too old, as a first step.

After that, you’re free to see if cleaning it and lubing it up will do the trick. If it doesn’t, look into whether the chain is a right fit for your cassette and whether you should consider changing it out.

Final Word: On Reducing Bike Trainer Noise

Don’t let the noise of your bike trainer worry you. As you’ve seen, there’s a lot of explanations and solutions for most types of commotions it could be causing you.

If all else fails, there’s always an upgrade to consider. Here are some of the quietest bike trainers we picked out specifically, as well as the best quiet treadmills.