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Smart in winter.
The Vortex Smart Training Base doesn't quite recreate the extremes of Tacx's pricier models, but its 7% max simulated gradient and its ceiling of 950 watts are more than most of use in an actual race—let alone an indoor training session. These numbers allow it to recreate everything from a long climb to a sprint, so the Vortex keeps up with the virtual course info fed to it from training apps like Zwift and Tacx's own options.
- A cycling trainer to maintain form during winter
- Syncs with apps to synthesize virtual training courses
- Wireless connection to hardware simplifies set-up
- Enough resistance to keep you on top of your game
- Folds for storage when the weather improves
- Item #TAC001O
- Q & A
Sex Panther of Trainers
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Like Sex Panther Cologne, 70% of the time, it works every time. OK, maybe more like 30% of the time. The rest of the time... better off with a dumb trainer.
When it is working properly, it works well with TrainerRoad and Zwift (I have not used it with other 3rd party apps). With TrainerRoad in erg mode, the trainer is supposed to adjust the resistance to match the proscribed wattage. And sometimes it works, and works quite well. (It is worth noting that even when it is working, wheel-on trainers require a warmup period where the actual wattage you are putting out and the wattage the trainer is reading will be quite a bit off.) Training with a smart trainer that is working properly is (for me at least) much more effective than a dumb trainer because I lack the attention span and discipline to maintain the proscribed wattages, so having the trainer force you into it is great (and horrible, but great). And sometimes it does not, and after updating firmware, trying to calibrate, updating TrainerRoad versions, etc., it has reached the point where it now pretty consistently does not work (it doesn't seem to want to increase the resistance past about 200W) and I generally have to just shift as if it was a dumb trainer to hit the intended resistance. I became so frustrated with Tacx's customer service that I more or less just gave up (they, and evidently all of their customer service/tech reps, are in Europe, so responses are slow and have not been terribly helpful). I have had pretty good luck with Zwift (although I haven't used it with the structured workouts in Zwift, which use erg mode like TrainerRoad, but rather the normal program which uses slope mode).
It is really frustrating because it really is great when it works, but incredibly frustrating when it does not. I have already ordered it's replacement (Elite Direto) and don't plan to buy another Tacx product again. As another anecdote, a friend had this same trainer, which broke, and in order to get (warranty) repair, he had to send it back to Europe. He has also purchased a Direto now.