You might have the best smart trainer. But without a decent indoor cycling fan, you will find yourself working a lot (and I mean a lot) harder.
Riding Watopia at 30mph on Zwift requires the same amount of cooling air as you would get outdoors.
This is because sweat is your body’s way of removing heat from your body. Because the air flow as you move along the road evaporates it, and subsquently cools you down.
Indoors in your pain cave, it stays where it is. On you. And as the sweat (ie the heat) stays on your body, so you sweat more. And then you blood is thickened by the loss of fluid.
This forces the heart to pump harder. And you get into a cycle (no pun intended).
Then you enter what is known as cardiac drift.
But think again if you’re considering grabbing that fan from the kitchen or the kids’ bedroom. You need a one that is more suitable for the kind of heat generated by indoor cycling and Zwift.
That’s what we’re going to look at here – fans for cycling indoors.
Table of Contents
Your body is a heat making machine.
By sweating we can keep riding without stopping to remove heat.
Only horses have the same advantage. Everything else has to pant.
Without going too heavily into the science, when you’re pedalling on Zwift you are producing up to 3x more watts as heat than watts on the bike.
If this heat is not removed you end up creating more and more heat. This will affect your body’s ability to maintain that output.
What ventilation you get outdoors
This one depends on the weather, but even on a still day, you can move considerable airflow around your bike.
Fans are measured in Cubic Feet per Minute. This is just a way of measuring how much air a fan can move in a minute (there’s more on this further down).
The more air the better.
Now, this is a rough estimate, but if you’re riding between 25-33 km/h, your upper body alone will be hit by between 7,000 to 8,000 CFM.
There are three things to consider when buying a turbo trainer fan.
- Cubic feet per minute (CFM) – the measurement of how much air the fan can project in a minute.
- Range of circulation – how far the air will travel. Useful, if you are in a big room. Not so important for indoor cycling. Airflow direction is crucial you want as much as possible on your sweaty body.
- Directional Fans – avoid oscillating fans. This is a fan’s ability to move backwards and forwards and cover the room. But we don’t want to cover the room. You want it to cover us (apologies if that sounds a bit weird).
- Floor Fans – to be honest, I’ve going for floor fans here and avoiding pedestal fans. By blasting upwards you get more than adequate airflow over your whole body. Not just your face.
We something for a hot workshop or mechanical garage – not the house.
There are a lot of fans you can go for, whether you’re in the office or cooling the kids’ bedroom at night.
Oscillating, drum fans, pedestal, etc.
We are not interested in any of these. For our purposes, we will go for a floor-based directional fan with a high CFM that can project air in your direction.
For indoor cycling, speed tops the amount of air. Remember, we’re cycling on the spot so a directed airflow is what you need.
This really requires a separate post. But the simple answer, unless it has a high CFM, is you ideally need to use two directional fans.
One for each side of you.
It’s a common mistake to direct a fan at your front – because that’s the way you’re riding. But there’s always going to be more airflow that way.
Directing fans on either side from the floor up will ensure close to 100% coverage.
Simply position the fans 2 metres away and direct the airflow towards your chest. That way you core and head will get the bulk of the cool air.
One last tip, look at getting a remote to switch them on. When you start riding the last thing you need is icy air blasted over you, especially when you are cold anyway.
So next, let’s get beyond the hot air and look at the different fans I’ve tried or owned and look at their pros and cons.
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Best Fans for Zwift at a Glance
Honeywell HT-900 Turbo Force Room Air Circulator, Black
If you are looking for a dependable floor standing fan then the Honeywell HT-900 fits the bill. It’s both affordable, portable, and capable of directing air onto your overheating torso.
In terms of the specifications, it has a cubic feet per minute rating of around 200. It works on three-speeds – although you will usually have on maximum.
Oh, and I actually own two of these.
If you’re looking for something small and basic, then this will do the job and keep you cool on a hot day. Be aware though, you will need to have it on full blast. But it will definitely get the job done.
This is a manually operated fan. If it is located on the ground then you will need to switch it on before you get on the bike. Personally, I hate that feeling of cold air blasted on you when you were cold to begin with. There are remote control options, but you will need to buy that separately. Last, you need two of these.
Wahoo Kickr Headwind
Ok, I have a confession to make. I have a mate who owns one of these and I would really love one too.
To be honest, it’s more than just a fan. It’s an extravagance.
The Kickr Headwind ties up with your trainer and whatever application you’re using. Simply put, it’s interactive and blows more air at you the faster you go. It can also be tied to your heart rate.
Having tried it, it adds another dimension to your indoor cycling. Does it replace the actual wind? No, but I don’t think it tries to.
And there’s also a steady (ordinary) fan mode too.
Ok, it blows air. But this is also a different product to the other options here. It does more than keep you cool, it simulates riding outdoors.
It’s so powerful you don’t need to have one either side. If you are building a deluxe pain palace then this is a must – that and a Kickr Climb.
Ok, it blows air (see what I did there). But curiously, Wahoo don’t say how much. In fact if you look elsewhere, you won’t find the number. Well, I’ve felt it and it does blow. The question is, how much do you want that extra bit of reality?
Lasko High Velocity Pro
The Wahoo Kickr Headwind might be in a league of its own but the Lasko High Velocity Pro is up there.
First up, it comes with a maxium CFM of 285. It’s not the highest here but its design means it is more directional than some of the others that are reviewed.
It comes with three manually operated controls. There is no remote.
But on the positive side, it comes with a 10 foot cord so you can have it quite close to you. It also comes in a portable design – so it doesn’t get in the way. Maybe it’s just me but I find fans get in the way a bit when they are on the floor.
Nice directional fan. It does not have the highest CFM out of those reviewed but we found it focused that air around the chest and head, which is where you want it.
It only comes with manual controls. A shame because otherwise it’s a decent fan for the job.
If you’ve read all the way down, you’ll know my thoughts on starting cold with a fan blowing on you. With its lifelike wind speeds and user-centric design, this fan enhances the indoor training experience by keeping you cool and comfortable during intense sessions.
The remote control allows you to do what the Honeywell cannot – blow cool air when you need it.
The Vacmaster Cardio54 boasts impressive specifications to enhance any indoor training session. It achieves wind speeds of up to 54km/h (33mph), while maintaining a low operating noise to guarantee a distraction-free workout. Users can choose between three distinct speed settings, including 21mph, 27mph, and a top speed of 33mph.
Remote Control Convenience: No need to interrupt your training; control the fan from your bike or treadmill. The inclusion of batteries is a nice touch.
Adjustable Cooling: Customize the cooling experience, whether you’re warming up, racing, or cooling down.
Strategic Airflow: With adjustable angles, you can direct airflow where you need it most, be it your legs, core, or head.
Positioning is Key: The narrow airflow means you have to be precise in positioning the fan to target the right areas.
Vornado 293 Large Heavy Duty Air Circulator
The Vornado is about the velocity of the air it pushes out (see above). It can push air out to over 100 feet away and has a CFM of 750. It is actually designed for the shop floor and garages, which is fine for a cycling pain cave.
Also, the high velocity of the makes it ideal for replicating your movement along the road. Something to consider if you like the idea of the Wahoo Kickr Headwind.
Its high air velocity means you really feel the air hitting you – so it will keep you cool on the hottest of days. No matter how hard you are racing on Zwift.
No remote control.
MaxxAir 24-Inch 2-in-1 High Velocity Air Movement Portable Air Circulator
Sometimes you just want to go big. If you’re in a naturally environment and some air flowing through the space. No fuss. No messing around with fans positioned either side of the bike.
This is a drum fan with around 7,000 CFM at top whack. 4,000 CFM at the low speed setting. For the price, it’s decent value for money and quite portable too.
This will do the job for you. It tends to be used in car repair garages etc, where heat comes from engines etc.
Moreover, you will not need two of these. In fact, I would think twice about this if you have a small pain cave. It will literally blow you away.
It blows out a lot of air and is capable of standing close to chest height when on the bike. You’ll only need one of these.
No remote control, fairly big, quite noisy.
Are air fans necessary for indoor cycling?
While not absolutely necessary, air fans can greatly enhance your indoor cycling experience. They provide a cooling breeze, regulate body temperature, and prevent overheating during intense workouts. Air fans can also simulate the sensation of riding outdoors, adding to the realism and enjoyment of your indoor cycling sessions.
What is the benefit of using a fan during indoor cycling?
Fans offer several benefits for indoor cyclists. They help evaporate sweat and reduce the prospect of cardiac drift as the sweat is your body’s way of removing heat. So they also help maintain a comfortable temperature, prevent excessive sweating, and improve overall comfort during workouts.
Can fans be noisy and disruptive during indoor cycling sessions?
Some air fans may produce noise during operation, but many models are designed to be relatively quiet. When choosing an air fan, consider noise levels as a factor. Look for fans with noise reduction features or models that have positive reviews regarding noise levels. Placing the fan at an appropriate distance and angle can also help minimize any noise disturbance during your workouts.