If you’ve been fortunate enough to ride outside this summer and fall, the cold, hard reality of wintertime is slowly approaching, and as the days get shorter, the wind gets windier, and the weather gets gnarly, it’s time to head back inside for some self-induced trainer quarantining. Or maybe you’re one of the millions of Peloton, Echelon, or home SoulCycle converts finding the challenge of an inside ride at home. Though indoor training has become decidedly more fun in the last few years, it’s still really really hard and really really sweaty. Unless you’re hardcore enough to put your trainer or stationary bike out in the snow, there’s a good chance that you’ll be heating up in the first ten minutes and doused in sweat until you stop. For this, you’ll need a good fan. Before we take a look at the best indoor cycling fans — the home appliance kind, not the ones who cheer for you—let’s get educated.
Portability is key
Bear in mind that many fans are built to cool an entire room, not necessarily a single person doing something super hot in one part of it. Even fans with a targeted blast might not be ideal for indoor cycling if the angle and direction of the fan is blocked by your riding accouterments. For instance, if you’re looking for the best fan for Peloton, Echelon, or home SoulCycle, you’ll likely be dealing with a big screen right in front of your face/body. You’ll need something that you can position in the best possible spot to cover the areas that heat up the most (your head, your core, your back). Depending on the setup of your room, this could mean a fan with a stand or a smaller fan that can be placed on a shelf (or a combination of fans). Think ahead on this one.
For the vast majority of fans you’ll find online or at department stores (is that still a thing?), you’ll find the “CFM” measurement listed somewhere. CFM stands for “Cubic Feet per Minute” and measures the volume of airflow a fan “pushes” over time. So not only does this indicate the speed of the air coming out of the fan, but it also tells you how much air is being moved. For indoor cycling fans, the speed is slightly more important than the volume — as we’re not moving around at all, a focused airflow works well. Also bear in mind that a fan with more CFM might do more than simply cool your face or torso, it might also move enough air to get your legs, your back, any papers you have lying around, or whatever. Lots of volume and no speed? This is great for slightly cooling a big room or circulating air for another reason — like drying out a wet area — but it might not be the best fan for indoor cycling as it probably won’t make much of an impact on your core temperature.
To blade or not to blade
While there aren’t a ton of bladeless fans out there, the best indoor cycling fan for your home situation may be ones with safety in mind. Many athletes will train inside because they’ve got little ones at home that need to be monitored while they crank out a gnarly threshold workout. For those with kids, bear in mind that you might enter “the grey zone” at some point during the workout — making it tougher to ensure your charges don’t play with the fan (if it’s within reach) or knock it over (if it’s on a pedestal). The safest option by far is to get a bladeless fan, but be sure it pumps out enough air to properly cool you. Also, bladeless fans tend to be quieter than bladed fans, but not always.
If you’re someone who trains indoors a lot, you know that it can take forever to set up your workout space properly and little interruptions during your ride can really take the wind out of your sails (literally). Keep the wind in your sails, at whatever speed you want, by getting a fan with a remote. Better yet, the best fans for cycling indoors keep things super simple with WiFi connectivity, so you can use your always-nearby smartphone to keep in control — a fan remote doesn’t do much good if it’s lost behind a workbench.
Keep it quiet
Unfortunately, not all fans come with a decibel rating, but unless you’re comfortable wearing headphones while you train or (God forbid!) listening to nothing at all, expect some noise ranging from 35dB to 100dB+ depending on the setting, the model, and where you place it. Figuring out if a fan is loud or not isn’t a simple science, as there are tons of factors that go into how much sound they’ll create, but there are a few fans that are made for those who seek silence — or bladeless fans are often low in decibel output, and expect a large box-style shop fan to be louder than something made for the home.
What’s your type?
While there are a million shapes and sizes, we’ve listed a few common types below to help you find your best fan for cycling indoors.
This style is a good choice for athletes looking to ride inside as its shape matches the profile of a cyclist. Sometimes tower fans aren’t as powerful, but they do have excellent coverage and often good noise levels.
This is a popular option as it can be aimed in any direction, is often very powerful, and offers some very quiet models. Floor fans are also a good choice if you have a temporary setup, as they take up way less space than other fans. “Drum” fans are quickly becoming more popular and affordable, and are a good option for a place without kids (as they can be very dangerous) and a lot of extra space.
Think: A floor fan jammed onto a spike. These are an excellent option if you want the fan at face height but don’t have a spot to place a floor fan up high. While pedestal fans work well, they can be slightly limiting if you want your airflow to hit your core and the stand is too high and unadjustable. Be sure to take into account how you’ll be using this one and where exactly you want the air.
Ok, this one is obvious, but still effective. Installation (if you don’t already have one) is super tough, and while they move a lot of air, oftentimes the sheer speed of a standard ceiling fan isn’t enough for indoor cycling. And while it may cool your back, don’t expect your core temperature to get as low as you would with a tower, pedestal, or floor fan. Use a ceiling fan in combination with one of the previously mentioned models for better results.
Now that you’re knowledgeable enough to open your own fan store, let’s take a look at a few notable models considered the best fans for indoor cycling.
Best indoor cycling fan for clean air
Dyson Pure Hot + Cool HP04 | $650
Ok, the price tag is a little shocking, but this fan has it all: excellent aesthetics, decent cooling, air purification, and even heating. While the first three features may seem obvious, heating actually isn’t the worst thing to have at the start of a chilly garage-bound workout. Dyson’s purification filter is unmatched and this fan is WiFi compatible, so you can change settings via your smartphone and even monitor your training area’s air quality with a handy LCD screen on the fan or in the app. Don’t expect a ton of power from this fan (~600CFM), but that’s not the point.
Best indoor cycling fan for peace and quiet
Rowenta VU5670 Turbo Silence Extreme | $140
With a claimed 35dB output, this pedestal fan is super quiet, but still puts out nearly 2,500CFM at the highest setting (35dB is at low). Though it’s as old-school looking as it gets, the Rowenta is a great choice because the adjustable pedestal allows you to customize where the air goes and it includes a remote. Just be sure you have space, as this is not a tiny fan.
Best indoor cycling fan on the go
18V ONE+™ BUCKET TOP MISTING FAN KIT | $92
This battery-powered fan is not only portable, but it cools you a claimed 28 times more than air alone by channeling water up into the fan either via a hose or a 5-gallon bucket. This is a good choice if you’re able to still be outside or in an environment that you can get wet, but won’t work at all for something like your living room. Ryobi also makes a non-mister model, the 18V ONE+™ Hybrid Fan that also puts out a hearty 2,400 CFM, and is just as portable and adjustable as its decidedly wet cousin. Bonus: The mister is great for outdoor, socially distanced events, and the battery works with the Ryobi tool ecosystem.
Best indoor cycling fan for virtual training environments
Wahoo Kickr Headwind | $250
In terms of tech factor, the Headwind definitely wins: By connecting to a virtual training environment like Zwift, a speed sensor, or even your heart-rate monitor, the Headwind will adjust the fan’s speed accordingly, up to 30mph. Specifically shaped to a cyclist’s body, this Bluetooth- and ANT+-enabled smart fan can be controlled by the factors mentioned above or manually via a smartphone. While Wahoo doesn’t provide CFM measurements for this fan (they would likely be low as the fan only moves a very specific amount of air the size of the athlete’s body), obviously 30mph is a good midrange for what you’d feel outside. With that said, you may find yourself setting it on high more than anything else, making the high price tag feel a bit tough to swallow.
Best indoor cycling fan for power on a budget
Lasko 20″ High-Velocity Fan with Remote Control | $80
This fan puts out a staggering amount of air (3,100-3,400CFM) and comes in at under $100, even with a remote. Though it’s sold as a floor fan, this monster can also be mounted on a wall and has a wide range of rotation. Bear in mind, this fan is LOUD — even at a lower setting — so crank up the headphones while you’re in this tornado of air. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the little ones, as the blades could be a real hazard.