Pain cave essentials: The ultimate Smart Trainer setup for under a grand


Get set up for Zwift, Trainer Road and other indoor training for under a grand

Indoor training is a great way of squeezing in a ride when you've not got much time and some cyclists much prefer the controlled environment when the weather is horrible. With the advent of smart trainers it doesn't have to be boring either - you can ride some of the worlds great climbs, and pit yourself against other riders while you're doing it, and harvest a load of performance and training data while you're at it. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

But some smart trainers cost well over £1,000, so we thought that we'd see if we could build an indoor pain cave for less than the cost of those smart trainers. Turns out, you can!

What you'll need - the essentials

Extras that we used to create our ultimate pain cave

The good news is that you can get the kit on our 'essentials' list for £727.95. The big monitor and the wireless keyboard hike the price up to £946.85.

But what has actually gone into our Ultimate Pain Cave Setup?

The Smart Trainer

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There are plenty of very good smart trainers out there, but for our Ultimate Pain Cave, we wanted a direct drive unit that can be controlled by the trainer app that we use the most, Zwift.

CycleOps has just be bought by Saris. They've changed the name of the H2 to the H3 and made some small updates but the H2 still stands as a brilliant trainer.

ProBikeKit has it at just £624.99.

You can read the review here

A Gym Fan


Without a cooling breeze, you will be getting very sweaty. A gym fan will not only keep you from instantly becoming a puddle, but it'll also help you to maintain watts similar to your outdoor performance.

Amazon has a range. This 18" fan from Oypla is £38 

Trainer Mat

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It's amazing how much you can spend on a mat to go under your smart trainer. They're worth getting as they soak up vibrations caused by the trainer, helping to avoid excess noise.

Decathlon make one for just £14.99

Laptop Stand


We're assuming that you've already got a device on which to run your preferred training app. A laptop stand brings the device up to a nice level, allowing you to easily see the screen and access the in-app commands without sweating all over your laptop/tablet/phone screen.

This stand on Amazon is height adjustable, allowing you to get the device is a comfortable, easy-to-reach spot.

Grab it for just £35.99

ANT+ Dongle


While the H2 supports both ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity, ANT+ seems to offer a more stable connection while using training apps. The last thing you want is a data dropout when you're about to crush the KoM time.

This little unit is just £13.99

The Extra Bits

Dell 27" HD Monitor

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Ok, so this is a bit of a luxury, but if you want to bring a game like Zwift to life, and for heavy indoor training, we'd highly recommend it, you'll want a nice big screen.

The graphics on a game like Zwift aren't amazingly detailed, but if you're watching training videos, old race footage, or Sufferfest videos then decent clarity is needed.

This monitor from Dell offers 1920 x 1080 resolution and comes in at £199.95

Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse


If you're setting up your device away from the bike, or you simply don't want to sweat all over your laptop then a wireless keyboard can be placed on the laptop stand that we listed above.

This will allow you to control the training app from your bike, which is especially helpful on Zwift.

Grab it for £17


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