Many turbo manufacturers produce own branded mats for use with their trainers. While brand loyalty is nice, and my OCD plays well with a trainer matched to the manufacturer mat, they are rarely bundled with a turbo, so the price is thus a major factor. So assuming you are opening your own wallet which is the best for catching your sweat?
Which Turbo Trainer Mat is Best for Zwift? Zwift Gear Tests
If you are lucky when it comes to buying your turbo, if you are buying from your local bike shop, you may be able to negotiate a deal to include a few branded goodies. Perhaps a bottle, a sweat catcher and turbo mat. If so, all power to you, and kudos for supporting your LBS. HOWEVER many people understandably buy their turbo wherever they can get the best price, which frequently means online. In which case, you are more than likely going to be asked to pay additionally for your turbo mat… and these things ain’t cheap, ranging from £20 for a generic mat, all the way to £50-60 for branded ones.
The big manufacturers all would like you to open your wallet to their branded bits of rubber, is there anything to choose between different offerings other than price?
A lot of people look towards trainer mats as a way of reducing the vibrations from the turbo, and in turn lessen the noise of the turbo. Realistically I don’t find that any turbo trainer mat significantly reduced the noise while I am in the room. However, in the kitchen below, I am reassured that the sound is slightly less intrusive. But I think it is worthwhile managing your expectations about sound proofing and consider turbo trainers more an adjunct to protecting your pain cave from sweat!
Elite Cycling Training Mat ~ £55
The Elite Training mat is made of a densely packed foam. There is not much “squidge” when you press or stand on the mat. But from a purely looks side of things, it is my favourite, simply due to the bright red being less dour than the routine black of the other turbo trainer manufacturers.
The eye-catching red does have a slight issue in that it is marked more easily. For some reason, I seem to have ended up with what appears to be a front wheel mark on the mat. Very odd, as I’m not using the front wheel much on Zwift. But whatever has caused it, I cant manage to get it off scrubbing!
One other thing to note is that the surface of the Elite mat, is that it doesn’t take kindly to Speedplay cleats. I have managed to cause a few surface scuffs when turning around while still wearing my cycling shoes. This is the only one of the three rubber mats I have been testing to get the damage
Ease of transport
Given the density of the mat, and the overall dimensions, the Elite Turbo Trainer Mat does roll up into quite a small tube, and is also reasonably light. Again, due to the bright colour, the mat does not visually take up as much space, if rolled up in a corner, which is quite important to me in the TitaniumGeek cave
- Size: 75cm x 190cm
- Thickness: 5mm
- Weight: 2.8kg
Cycleops Trainer Mat ~ £40
When you open the Cycleops mat for the first time, it seems simply less… substantial… than the Elite and Wahoo mats. I think this is mainly because the mat is shorter, and thinner, 1mm thinner than the Elite, and 2mm thinner than the Wahoo mats. However, while shorter than both, it is much wider than the elite, and just a touch larger than the massive Wahoo mat. If we look at the mat as a method of protecting your floor first and foremost, the extra width should make the Cycleops mat one of the more practical mats, as it is not as though you need additional material behind your turbo, or in front of your wheel!
As from a style perspective, while I like the red of the Elite, I do quite like the single Cycleops logo in the bottom right. It is somehow just a little less, “in your face” than the Wahoo branding, and large Elite letters. But obviously, that is very personal!
Given the 4mm thickness of the mat, the Cycleops mat rolls down very easily. With both the Elite, and Wahoo mat, due to their extra thickness, it is not unusual to have the mats retain a curl for some time after they have been unrolled. The Cycleops mat, by comparison, appears to flow down wherever you place it – which can be especially helpful if you want to protect a power pack from sweat by putting it under the mat
Ease of transport
Due to being one of the thinner mats, like the Elite mat, the Cycleops Turbo Trainer Mat rolls up, not only into a small package but also easily. Something which cant be said with the thicker mats, which can take a little man handling.
- Size: 162 x 93cm
- Thickness: 4mm
- Weight: 3.6kg
Wahoo KICKR Trainer Mat ~ £60
The largest of the big three manufacture turbo mats, both in length and thickness, is the Wahoo KICKR turbo trainer mat’s trump card. It just makes sense to make a larger turbo mat. The more of the mat there is, the more you can catch the sweat. It is not exactly rocket science!
The KICKR mat is also the most branded of the mats available, not only promoting the Wahoo Fitness brand, but also the KICKR turbo trainer. I know that some people who don’t have a KICKR may be slightly turned off from purchasing based on that.
Although Zwift themselves have overcome this particular hurdle, by just turning the mat over, and putting their Zwift branding on the other side!
The depth of thickness on the Wahoo mat is immediately evident when you stand on it, either in bare foot, or with your cycling shoes on, as you sink into it slightly. That has that added advantage somewhat helping stabilise your trainer. Additionally the Wahoo KICKR mat protects your carpet/floor as well as can be given the thickness, and when you remove the trainer, the indents remain in the 6P free PVC for many minutes after
Ease of transport
However the plasticity of the Wahoo turbo mat is also it’s major weakness. When the mat has been rolled up, even if only briefly, you are looking at least 30mins before the mat will lie flat on the floor, which personally is a little irritating, if needing to get set up and zwifting in a hurry, e.g. for a race start time
In addition, being the largest, and thus the heaviest, the wahoo can also be a bit of a pig to move around, as the roll that it forms is thicker, and longer than all of the other turbo mats. While not deal breakers, but both points to consider if you have to take your setup down after every session.
- Size: 91.4cm x 198.1cm
- Thickness: 6mm
- Weight: 3.4kg
Tacx Foldable Trainer Mat ~ £40
The Tacx Turbo Trainer mat is certainly one of the more interesting mats. While most turbo mats are simply sheets of PVC/rubber, and Tacx mat is made of several different types of materials, giving a unique product.
The nature of the fabric surface means that rather than just pooling, and then running away, sweat is absorbed by the material. HOWEVER, the Tacx mat is still able to protect your floor, especially carpet, as the underside is waterproof. Also, rubberised grips by either side, prevent the mat from slipping. All of this does, however, mean you are going to have to consider cleaning more proactively than with a rubber mat!
Due to the lightness to the mat, it doesn’t lay perfectly flat as you can see above, where the mat is turned upside down. In many ways describing the Tacx product as a fabric sheet or tarp may be closer to the truth than using the term “mat.”
Ease of transport
As a result of Tacx using fabric materials for their turbo trainer mat, it is also the easiest to pack up by a significant margin. Just fold it up into a slim rectangle, and you are ready to go. None of this faffing around, rolling rubber into heavy tubes.
- Size: 173×74 cm
- Thickness: 5mm
- Weight: 1.3kg
There will always be people who can very successfully do things better, and more cheaply via a DIY approach. Camping mats are regularly commented on but frequently lose out in width. Similarly, gym mats can also be used, but this review has looked towards the products which people might consider buying directly from manufacturers. But if people have thoughts on DIY products which can be easily procured, preferably by brand, then stick them in the comments, and I’ll add to the review
The best mat for you does depend, like buying a turbo trainer itself, on your wallet and how much you want to spend.
If we take price out of the equation for a moment (easy to say, perhaps not to do), then the Wahoo KICKR trainer mat is the best mat that you can buy. It is the largest, and personally, I have found it the most durable.
The Cycleops mat is fractionally wider, which is a good thing for sweat catching, but I find that added squidge on the Wahoo mat gives it the edge – as I’m now not having the Zwift in the living room. If I were still, I’d probably be looking more closely at the Cycleops though!
By comparison, if you are moving around from place to place regularly, rather than just in the house, the Tacx mat is probably going to be the one for you, as you can fold it up easily. BUT the material nature of the mat does mean that over time it does get a little more…grim, where as the rubber mats can easily be revived with a bleach wipe down.
Finally the Elite, personally it is just a little too narrow for me. But I do like the colour, it makes a room much brighter than the black mats, and gains serious points for that. As a result, give we have two bikes set up at home now, I tend to have one Elite mat set up on Amy’s turbo (she sweats much less), and one Wahoo mat for me. Taht way the sweat is protected against, without the Wahoo mat making the floor a dark hole.
Each person has their criteria for buying a mat, but hopefully, this will give you something more to think about than simply dimensions!