Tacx Vortex Smart Bike Ergotrainer Review

Tacx Vortex Smart Bike Ergotrainer Review

tacx vortex smart indoor bike trainer review
Tacx Vortex Smart Ergotrainer

Tacx is not a new name in the cycling world. The company is known especially for its smart trainers which are some of the best for people on a budget. It started its smart trainer’s series in 2014 and has been going strong ever since. Tacx already won the trust of cyclists a long time ago because of their quality cycling products.

Needless to say, their smart trainers are just as good—if not better. If you are, therefore, looking to buy an interactive trainer, you can fully trust Tacx trainers because they have proved themselves over time.

The Tacx Vortex is a cool looking smart trainer that also has the ability to offer resistance without being plugged into power. It is, therefore, perfect for you to carry and warm up before races. The most outstanding feature about the Vortex is its lightweight. The trainer suits people of all skill sets.

The Tacx Vortex is one of the nine best smart bike trainers of 2018. This brief introduction is not enough to convince you to buy the Vortex; so how about you read further to learn and understand all that it has to offer.

Quick Summary of Features and Specifications

  • Flywheel weighs 1.7 kg with 11.81 kg mass inertia
  • Has 8 powerful magnets that give a maximum resistance of 950 watts
  • Connects wirelessly to your tablet, PC or smartphone via Bluetooth Smart and ANT+
  • Tacx cycling app is compatible with both Android and iOS
  • Measures power, speed, and cadence
  • Can work without power connection and offers progressive resistance
  • Maximum slope simulation: 7%
  • Sprint power: 750 watts (1 min)
  • Works with training apps; Zwift, TrainerRoad, Tacx Cycling App, etc.
  • Lightweight and convenient for travel
  • Weighs 9.1 kg (20lb)
  • Folds for storage
  • Allows apps to control resistance automatically

Closer Look At The Features And Specifications

tacx vortex smart bike trainer reviewThe Vortex is capable of stand-alone training. This trainer is both a smart trainer and a fluid trainer. If you do not want to go through the trouble of connecting the Vortex to a device, you can just hop on it and start riding. It acts as a fluid trainer with progressive resistance. The faster you pedal, the harder your workout becomes.

It has an electro-brake that simulates climbs on apps. Magnets and electromagnets are placed next to a rotating aluminum disc. This creates eddy currents which in turn cause an opposing magnetic field. The electro-brake technology lets you get the most out of Zwift climbs and scores a bonus point for the Vortex. Any changes in speed are registered with fantastic precision.

The Tacx Vortex smart trainer supports both Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ connectivity. It offers versatility in terms of connection and communication to your training devices. The protocols are open and allow for third-party app compatibility. It connects well to the Tacx raining app (iOS, Windows, and Android). The app is helpful for calibration.

The Tacx Vortex is very light and the frame folds flat. At 9.1 kg (20lb), it is hard not to notice how light this trainer is. It gives you the option of carrying it anywhere. Another interesting feature is that the supplied front wheel riser block acts as a carry handle when you clamp it in the skewer clamp. This trainer is probably the winner when it comes to portability.

This bike stand requires a little assembly. Although many manufacturers now deliver fully assembled trainers, some are still choosing to let you do it yourself. The Vortex requires you to attach the resistance unit to the rest of the frame using hex bolts. Next, you need to choose your wheel size—the different mounting positions depend on your bike’s wheel size.

Tacx claims that the Vortex has a variance of 10% in power output accuracy. In reality, however, the variance goes as far as 15%. During long workouts, the inaccuracy may be a little extreme. This problem is common among smart trainers. For better accuracy, calibration before every session is recommended.

The Vortex offers virtual speed outside the brake range. The electro brake allows you to get outside the intended range of the brake. With the virtual speed, riders with an electro brake can race against those with a motor brake on virtual terrains. The energy supplied is translated into a certain speed guaranteeing a fair contest. If this speed is different from the actual speed of the rear wheel, the virtual speed appears in red on the screen.

The flywheel weighs 1.7 kg (3.75 lb). Other trainers within its range have heavier flywheels to offer more inertia and smooth pedal strokes. Some riders are really keen on the flywheel weight. However, Tacx says that the Vortex flywheel offers 11.81 kg (26 lb) mass inertia. One thing is for sure, though, the Vortex has great resistance and gives you a smooth riding experience.

Why You Should Buy This Trainer

tacx vortex smart trainer with electro brakeThe Vortex is affordable. Most people will not find this bike stand expensive and given what it has to offer, it is worth every dime you spend. Many people have labeled it the best budget smart trainer. The Tacx Vortex will let you get the most out of training apps and monitor your numbers without breaking the bank.

It can act as a stand-alone trainer. Another thing that should make you seriously consider this trainer is the fact that you do not have to connect it to power and connect it to apps. When it is not being used as a smart trainer, the Vortex is a fluid exercise stand that offers you progressive resistance. It will come in handy when you want a unit to help you warm up before an event.

It is lightweight and folds for storage. You will not need to throw anything out to make space for your Vortex. If your space is already crowded but you still need a bike stand, this one will suit you. You can fold it to fit into smaller spaces. Its weight also allows you to carry it around when you need to.

The virtual speed feature is really cool. Cycling apps like Zwift allow you to virtually race against friends. With this feature, you can compete fairly against friends with a motor brake. You can get outside the actual speed of your rear wheel. You will be able to see the virtual speed on your screen in red.

The Vortex bike trainer supports both Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ protocols. It gives you the option of connecting to different devices and apps depending on your preferences. The protocols are open, meaning that you are not confined to a few select apps. It is compatible with third-party applications.

Its Downside

It can be noisy. Nobody likes a noisy trainer as it can be annoying when you want to listen to some music or motivational audios. The noise of the Vortex can be a deal breaker for some people. When riding at a steady state, it is relatively quiet. It gets noisier when you are going really hard. To be fair, though, it is very difficult to get a completely silent trainer. To reduce the noise you can use a Tacx trainer tire.

When setting up the Vortex, you need to select your bike’s wheel size since it has different mounting positions for different wheel sizes. If you have bikes with different wheel sizes, you will need tools every time you want to use another bike. The process can prove to be tedious and too much for some people. Nonetheless, if you have just one bike or bikes with the same wheel size, you have no reason to worry.

The power output can be a little disappointing. Tacx reports that the variance is around 10%. The problem is that the numbers can be way off in longer workouts. Power accuracy has never been a strong suit for smart trainers, so the problem is not unique to the Tacx Vortex. The best solution is to invest in a power meter.

What Users Are Saying

tacx vortex smart indoor bike trainer reviewAs already pointed out, you have to do a little assembly to get your Vortex up and ready to use. Some users say the process can be confusing and the manual makes it worse. Their best advice? Throw the manual away and get on YouTube; that will make everything simpler.

Pairing with devices and connecting to apps is easy and smooth. It is true that apps control resistance so you will be very happy with Zwift climbs. Everything else on this trainer works just as Tacx claims and the customers appreciate the many cool features that they are able to get at a relatively small cost.

My verdict

Given the price of this unit, it offers an irresistible deal. Its light and foldable frame makes storage and moving around simple. The Vortex allows you to use it as a fluid trainer without connecting it to power which is amazing. Adding the virtual speed feature was really thoughtful of Tacx. Looking at the reviews you will know that the Tacx is an awesome trainer that you need to get for yourself. The choice to buy the Tacx Vortex smart trainer is one you will not regret.